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Which Health Conditions Impact on Productivity in Working Australians?

Holden, Libby MPH; Scuffham, Paul A. PhD; Hilton, Michael F. PhD; Ware, Robert S. PhD; Vecchio, Nerina PhD; Whiteford, Harvey A. MBBS, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 3 - p 253–257
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31820d1007
Original Articles: CME Available for this Article at

Objective: To identify health conditions associated with productivity loss in working Australians, adjusting for comorbidity, demographics, and work-related characteristics.

Methods: The Australian Work Outcomes Research Cost–benefit study cross-sectional screening data set was used to identify health-related productivity losses in a sample of approximately 78,000 working Australians. Data collected with the World Health Organisation Health and Productivity Questionnaire were analyzed using negative binomial logistic regression and multinomial logistic regression models for absenteeism and presenteeism, respectively.

Results: Health conditions impacted on both presenteeism and absenteeism. Drug and alcohol problems and psychological distress had a greater impact on absenteeism and presenteeism than other investigated health conditions. Demographic characteristics, health status (comorbidity), and work-related characteristics all impacted significantly on both absenteeism and presenteeism.

Conclusion: Mental health conditions contributed more strongly to productivity loss than other investigated health conditions.

From the Griffith University (Ms Holden, Dr Scuffham, Dr Vecchio), Brisbane, Australia; Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (Dr Hilton, Dr Whiteford), Queensland Health, Australia; and School of Population Health (Dr Hilton, Dr Ware, Dr Whiteford), University of Queensland, Herston, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Libby Holden, MPH, School of Medicine, Griffith University University Drive, Meadowbrook, Q4131, Australia; E-mail:

Libby Holden and coauthors Scuffham, P.A., Hilton, M.F., Ware, R.S., Vecchio, N., and Whiteford, H.A., have no financial interests related to this article, which was funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, Mental Health Strategy Branch, Australian Government, Canberra, ACT, beyondblue: the national depression initiative, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, and the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund, Paramatta, NSW, Australia.

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

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine