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Stress and Workplace Productivity Loss in the Heart of New Ulm Project

VanWormer, Jeffrey J. PhD; Fyfe-Johnson, Amber L. ND; Boucher, Jackie L. MS, RD; Johnson, Pamela Jo PhD, MPH; Britt, Heather R. PhD, MPH; Thygeson, N. Marcus MD; Dusek, Jeffery A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 10 - p 1106–1109
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318229ab18
ORIGINAL ARTICLES: CME Available for this Article at

Objective: The impact of stress in conjunction with lifestyle factors on workplace productivity is understudied, thus the relationship between these variables was examined.

Methods: Negative binomial regression was used to test the cross-sectional association between stress and productivity loss in a sample of 2823 adults.

Results: After body mass index adjustment, there was an interaction between stress and physical activity (β ± SE = 0.002 ± 0.001, P = 0.033). Active participants with low stress had 2% estimated productivity loss, whereas active participants with high stress had more than 11% productivity loss. Other lifestyle factors were not significant.

Conclusions: Higher stress generally predicted greater productivity loss, but this association varied. At low stress, more activity was associated with less productivity loss. At high stress, more activity was associated with more productivity loss, perhaps indicating that individuals cope by exercising more and working less.

From the Epidemiology Research Center (Dr VanWormer), Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wis; Department of Education (Dr VanWormer and Ms Boucher), Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn; Center for Healthcare Innovation (Drs Fyfe-Johnson, Jo Johnson, Britt, Thygeson, and Dusek), Allina Health System; and Division of Epidemiology & Community Health (Dr Jo Johnson), University of Minnesota, Minn.

Address correspondence to: Jeffrey J. VanWormer, PhD, Epidemiology Research Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, 1000 North Oak Ave, Marshfield, WI 54449. E-mail:

Authors VanWormer, Fyfe-Johnson, Boucher, Johnson, Britt, Thygeson, and Dusek have no commercial interest related to this research.

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

This research was supported by the Allina Health System's Center for Healthcare Innovation.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine