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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000068
Original Articles

Missing Variables: How Exclusion of Human Resources Policy Information Confounds Research Connecting Health and Business Outcomes

Lynch, Wendy D. PhD; Sherman, Bruce W. MD

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Abstract

When corporate health researchers examine the effects of health on business outcomes or the effect of health interventions on health and business outcomes, results will necessarily be confounded by the corporate environment(s) in which they are studied. In this research setting, most studies control for factors traditionally identified in public health, such as demographics and health status. Nevertheless, often overlooked is the extent to which company policies can also independently impact health care cost, work attendance, and productivity outcomes. With changes in employment and benefits practices resulting from health care reform, including incentives and plan design options, consideration of these largely neglected variables in research design has become increasingly important. This commentary summarizes existing knowledge regarding the implications of policy variations in research outcomes and provides a framework for incorporating them into future employer-based research.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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