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The Relationship Between Modifiable Health Risk Factors and Medical Expenditures, Absenteeism, Short-Term Disability, and Presenteeism Among Employees at Novartis

Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Carls, Ginger Smith MA; Wang, Shaohung PhD; Kelly, Emily MA; Mauceri, Edward MD; Columbus, Daniel MBA; Cavuoti, Ann CEBS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 4 - p 487-499
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31819eb902
Original Articles

Objective: To quantify the impact of health risks on medical care and productivity costs in an employed population.

Methods: Health risk, medical care, and productivity data were obtained for 5875 Novartis employees in 2005-2006. Factor analysis was performed to identify relationships among health risks. Multiple regression analyses were applied to estimate relationships between combined risk factors and costs.

Results: We found a significant and consistent association among three factors (high biometric laboratory values, cigarette and alcohol use, and poor emotional health) and increased presenteeism for both men and women and increased absenteeism for women. Medical care expenditures were 13-22% higher for men and women at risk for the high biometric laboratory values and the emotional health factor.

Conclusions: There is a potential for medical and productivity savings for employers able to reduce health risks among their workers.

From the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel), Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Washington, DC; Health and Productivity Research (Drs Goetzel and Wang), Statistical Informatics (Ms Carls), Consulting (Ms Kelly), Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Ann Arbor, MI; and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Dr Mauceri, Mr Columbus, Ms Cavuoti), East Hanover, NJ.

The opinions expressed in this paper are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Thomson Reuters, Emory University, or Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Thomson Reuters, 4301 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 330, Washington, DC 20008; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine