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Employees With Fibromyalgia: Medical Comorbidity, Healthcare Costs, and Work Loss

White, Leigh Ann PhD; Birnbaum, Howard G. PhD; Kaltenboeck, Anna MA; Tang, Jackson BS; Mallett, David MA; Robinson, Rebecca L. MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 1 - p 13-24
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31815cff4b
Original Articles

Objectives: To compare 2005 health care resources among matched samples of employees with fibromyalgia (FM), osteoarthritis (OA), and controls.

Methods: Using a claims database of privately insured individuals, FM and OA samples were derived from those with two or more disease-specific claims in 1999 to 2005 (≥1 in 2002 to 2005).

Results: Total costs for employees with FM ($10,199) approached OA costs ($10,861, P = 0.3758) and were significantly higher than controls ($5274, P < 0.0001). Cost components varied across disease-specific samples (direct medical: FM $7286 vs OA $8325, P < 0.0287; pharmacy: FM $1630 vs OA $1341; indirect: FM $2913 vs OA $2537, P < 0.0001). Employees with FM had more claims than OA for psychiatric diagnoses, chronic fatigue, and most pain conditions. Use of multiple prescription drug classes was common in both samples.

Conclusions: FM imposes significant economic burden. Work loss contributes substantially to the impact.

From Analysis Group, Inc., Boston, Mass (Drs White, Birnbaum, Ms Kaltenboeck, and Mr Tang); Ingenix, Inc., Rocky Hill, Conn (Mr Mallett); and Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Ind (Ms Robinson).

All research support was provided by Eli Lilly and Company, and Rebecca Robinson is an employee of Eli Lilly and Company. No authors received financial support for this research from other sources.

Address correspondence to: Leigh Ann White, PhD, Analysis Group, Inc., 111 Huntington Avenue, Tenth Floor, Boston, MA 02199; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine