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Asthma-related productivity losses in Alberta, Canada

Authors Thanh N, Ohinmaa A, Yan C

Published 19 March 2009 Volume 2009:2 Pages 43—48


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Nguyen X Thanh, Arto Ohinmaa, Charles Yan

Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Objectives: To estimate the number and cost of asthma-related productivity loss days due to absenteeism and presenteeism (at work but not fully functioning) in Alberta in 2005.

Methods: Using data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, this study focused on people of working age (18–64 years), who reported having an asthma diagnosis. Total asthma-related disability days, including in-bed days and activity-restricted days, were estimated by multiplying the difference in the means of total disability days between asthmatics and nonasthmatics adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and other health conditions by a multiple linear regression, with the number of asthmatics in the population. Number of productivity loss days was a sum between the number of in-bed days (absenteeism) and the number of activity-restricted days multiplied by a reduction in functional level (presenteeism), adjusted for five working days per week. Other data from Alberta or Canadian published literature, such as a reduction in functional level of 20%–30%, a labor participation rate of 73%, and an average wage of $158 per day in 2005, were also used for analyses.

Results: The prevalence of asthma was estimated at 8.5% among approximately 2.1 million people of working age in Alberta in 2005. The difference in the means of total disability days between asthmatics and nonasthmatics was 0.487 (95% CI: 0.286–0.688) in a period of two weeks or 12.7 (7.5–17.9) in one year. With the reduction in functional level of 20%–30%, the number of asthma-related productivity loss days was estimated from 442 (259–624) to 533 (313–753) thousand, respectively. The corresponding cost was from $70 ($41–$99) to $84 ($49–$119) million. Of these, the presenteeism accounted for 42% to 52%.

Conclusions: The results suggest that an improvement in the controlling of asthma could have a significant economic impact in Alberta and that presenteeism plays an important role in asthma-related productivity losses and therefore employers should not only pay attention to absenteeism, but also to presenteeism to minimize productivity loss.

Keywords: productivity loss, absenteeism, presenteeism, asthma, Alberta

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