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The Economic Impact of a Disability Prevention Program

Dowd, Bryan PhD; McGrail, Michael MD, MPH; Lohman, William H. MD; Sheasby, Brent MS; O'Connor, Heidi MS; Calasanz, Marilou BA; Gorman, Robert MD, MPH; Parente, Stephen PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 1 - p 15-21
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181c5c358
Original Articles

We evaluated the effect of an employer- and clinic-based intervention on indemnity, medical, and workers compensation costs. The intervention was designed to improve communication and coordination of employer and physician efforts to help employees with work-related injuries to return-to-work. The research design was a quasi-experimental comparison of expenditures in treatment and control employers and clinics, controlling for differences in baseline expenditures and other characteristics of the subjects. We estimated that the employer and clinic interventions produced combined savings of $490 per employee per year (21% of total health expenditures). Ninety-four percent of savings came from reduced medical expenditure. Our findings suggest that relative modest efforts at coordinating appropriate medical care with employer accommodation that allow early reintegration of injured workers back into the workforce could result in substantial reductions of medical expenditures.

From the Division of Health Policy and Management (Dr Dowd), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn; Presbyterian Hospitals and Medical Group (Dr McGrail), Albuquerque, NM; Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (Dr Lohman), St. Paul, Minn; Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (Dr Lohman), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn; Independent consultant (Mr. Sheasby) Keewatin, Minnesota; Department of Health Policy and Management (Dr O'Connor), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn; Ingenix (Ms Calasanz), Minneapolis, Minn; Occupational and Environmental Medicine Department (Dr Gorman), HealthPartners and Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minn; Carlson School of Management (Dr Parente), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.

CME Available for this Article at

Bryan Dowd and coauthors have no commercial interests related to this research.

The JOEM Editorial Board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Bryan Dowd, PhD, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, Box 729 MMC, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine