IBI Research: Chronic Health Conditions, Workplace Productivity and Accidents

Spotlight on article published in

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

IBI Spotlights call attention to important health and productivity findings from peer-reviewed work. The research described in this particular Spotlight is authored or co-authored by an IBI researcher. IBI members are encouraged to obtain the original articles from the copyright holder.

What is the Issue?

As an increasing number of employers continue to rely on an aging workforce for a majority of their advanced skills work, employers are becoming more concerned about the potential negative impact of chronic health conditions, which increase with age, on overall worker health and safety.

What are the findings/solutions?

Chronic conditions in a highly-skilled technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce are prevalent and costly. Efforts to prevent or reduce condition comorbidity among employees with multiple conditions can significantly reduce costs and workplace accident rates.

Journal Citation

Frey, J. J., Osteen, P. J., Berglund, P. A., Jinnett, K., & Ko, J. (2015). “Predicting the Impact of Chronic Health Conditions on Workplace Productivity and Accidents: Results From Two US Department of Energy National Laboratories.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine/American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Published ahead of print.

Objectives

Examine associations of chronic health conditions on workplace productivity and accidents among US Department of Energy employees.

Method

The Health and Work Performance Questionnaire-Select was administered to a random sample of two Department of Energy national laboratory employees (46% response rate; N = 1854).

Results

The majority (87.4%) reported having one or more chronic health conditions, with 43.4% reporting four or more conditions. A population-attributable risk proportions analysis suggests improvements of 4.5% in absenteeism, 5.1% in presenteeism, 8.9% in productivity, and 77% of accidents by reducing the number of conditions by one level. Depression was the only health condition associated with all four outcomes.

Conclusion

Results suggest that chronic conditions in this workforce are prevalent and costly. Efforts to prevent or reduce condition comorbidity among employees with multiple conditions can significantly reduce costs and workplace accident rates.

Author Details

Kim Jinnett, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Integrated Benefits Institute, was a co-author of this research article.