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Caregiving for Ill Dependents and Its Association with Employee Health Risks and Productivity

Burton, Wayne N. MD; Chen, Chin-Yu PhD; Conti, Daniel J. PhD; Pransky, Glenn MD, MOccH; Edington, Dee W. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2004 - Volume 46 - Issue 10 - p 1048-1056
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000141830.72507.32
Original Articles

This study examined the loss of productivity and health risk status associated with employees who provide care for an ill dependent. A total of 16,651 employees (23% response rate) of a major financial services company completed a confidential Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) that included an eight-item version of the Work Limitations Questionnaire and a self-report of time missed from work during the previous 2 weeks to care for an ill dependent. A total of 10.6% of the respondents reported an average of 7.7 hours absent from work during the previous 2-week period to provide care for an ill dependent. Caregiving also was associated with a significant increase in the number of health risks for the employee. As the demand for caregiving time increased, caregivers reported a significant increase in work limitations. Caregiving for an ill dependent is associated with increased absenteeism and significant work limitations while on the job. Programs and work organization that helps employees balance their caregiving responsibilities for ill dependents may have a positive effect on health and productivity.

From Bank One (Drs Burton, Conti) and Northwestern University Medical School (Dr Burton), Chicago, Illinois; University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Drs Chen, Edington); DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Conti); and Liberty Mutual Center for Disability Research, Hopkinton (Dr Pransky) and Departments of Medicine and Family Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester (Dr Pranksy), Massachusetts.

Address correspondence to: Wayne N. Burton, MD, Senior Vice President/Corporate Medical Director, Bank One, 1 Bank One Plaza, Mail Code IL1–0006, Chicago, IL 60670-0006; E-mail:

©2004The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine