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Prevalence of Arthritis and Associated Joint Disorders in an Employed Population and the Associated Healthcare, Sick Leave, Disability, and Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cost and Productivity Loss for Employers

Muchmore, Lamont MBA; Lynch, Wendy D. PhD; Gardner, Harold H. MD; Williamson, Todd; Burke, Tom

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2003 - Volume 45 - Issue 4 - p 369-378
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000063621.37065.26
ORIGINAL ARTICLES: CME Article #2
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Learning Objectives 
  • Recall the prevalence and demographic correlates of arthritis and associated joint disorders (AJD) in this large-scale employee study.
  • Describe any differences in comorbidity and the use of health care services between employees with and those without AJD.
  • Contrast the AJD and non-AJD groups with regard to health care costs, disability and workers’ compensation claims, and productivity.

Recall the prevalence and demographic correlates of arthritis and associated joint disorders (AJD) in this large-scale employee study.Describe any differences in comorbidity and the use of health care services between employees with and those without AJD.Contrast the AJD and non-AJD groups with regard to health care costs, disability and workers’ compensation claims, and productivity. Arthritis is a common condition among the working population in the United States. Despite its high prevalence, the total cost of arthritis from the employer perspective has not been fully evaluated. This study quantifies the employer cost for additional health care, absence, disability, productivity, and workers’ compensation costs related to arthritis and associated joint disorders (AJD) for a large sample of employees over 4 years. Results showed that AJD affected 15.5% of the employee population at some time. After adjusting for confounding factors, employees with AJD had significantly higher costs for health care ($998), prescription drug ($195), absence ($84), short-term disability ($184), long-term disability ($54), and workers’ compensation ($287); totaling $1802. Adjusted productivity output was 4% lower for the AJD group, equal to $7454 in lost revenue (P < .05). Implications for an aging workforce are also discussed.

From Options and Choices, Inc., Cheyenne, WY (Mr Muchmore, Dr Gardner); Lynch Consulting LLC, Denver, CO (Dr Lynch); and Pharmacia Corporation, Peapack, NJ (Mr Williamson and Mr Burke).

Address correspondence to: Lamont Muchmore, Options and Choices, Inc., 2232 Dell Range Boulevard, Suite 300, Cheyenne, WY 82009; E-mail: lamont-muchmore@oci.com.

Lamont Muchmore’s research was supported by a grant from Pharmacia.

©2003The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine