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Managing the Burden of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Workforce Health and Productivity: Upping a Leading Employer's Game

Allen, Harris PhD; Rogers, William PhD; Bunn, William B. III MD, JD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 9 - p 1064–1077
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182590317
Original Articles

Objective: To develop new evidence for advancing a leading employer's capacity to manage the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: Retrospective analyses of an integrated database tracking active employees (n = 19,989) from 2001–2009. Tests on 29 measures of direct/indirect costs and drivers examined unique disease burden and impact over time.

Results: The costs of COPD exceeded workforce-wide costs by wide margins in 2001–2002. Direct costs linked to the disease rose in 2008–2009; whereas, its indirect costs dropped sharply. Differences between yet-to-be-diagnosed versus diagnosed and newly diagnosed versus established diagnosed groups were directionally consistent on driver and cost measures in 2001–2002. In 2008–2009, these comparisons were similarly consistent on indirect measures but not direct measures. Medication use helped to explain the inconsistencies.

Discussion: New action on COPD-oriented unit price escalation, prevention, and medical management concerns raised by these results could strengthen an already exemplary health and productivity program.

From the Harris Allen Group, LLC (Dr Allen), Brookline, Mass; Tufts Medical Center (Dr Rogers), Boston, Mass; and Navistar, Inc (Dr Bunn), Lisle, Ill.

Address correspondence to: Harris Allen, PhD, Harris Allen Group, LLC, 150 Walnut Street Road #2, Brookline, MA 02445 (

This study was funded by an unrestricted educational contract to the Harris Allen Group from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Dr Allen has served on the speaker's bureau for Novartis.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine