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Change in Health Risks and Work Productivity Over Time

Pelletier, Barbara MS; Boles, Myde PhD; Lynch, Wendy PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2004 - Volume 46 - Issue 7 - p 746-754
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000131920.74668.e1

We sought to examine the relationship between changes in health risks and changes in work productivity. Pre- and postanalysis was conducted on 500 subjects who participated in a wellness program at a large national employer. Change in health risks was analyzed using McNemar chi-square tests, and change in mean productivity was analyzed using paired t tests. A repeated measures regression model examined whether a change in productivity was associated with a change in health risks, controlling for age and gender. Individuals who reduced one health risk improved their presenteeism by 9% and reduced absenteeism by 2%, controlling for baseline risk level, age, gender, and interaction of baseline risk and risk change. In conclusion, reductions in health risks are associated with positive changes in work productivity. Self-reported work productivity may have utility in the evaluation of health promotion programs.

From Aetna Inc., Hartford, Connecticut (Ms Pelletier); Center for Public Health Studies, School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon (Dr Boles); and Lynch Consulting, Ltd (Dr Lynch).

Aetna Inc. provided financial support for the design, development, coordination, delivery, management, and data analysis of the project and all program components and services rendered. WebMD HealthCare Services Group provided financial support for time spent by Dr Boles in initial preparation of manuscripts for publication through a consultant contract.

Dr Boles was employed at WellMed, Inc. (now WebMD HealthCare Services Group) at the initiation of this project: WebMD Healthcare Services Group, 520 NW Davis, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97209.

Address correspondence to: Barbara Pelletier, Aetna Inc., 151 Farmington Ave., Hartford, CT 06057; E-mail:

Copyright © 2004 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine