HealthDay News — According to a study published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease, considerable costs are associated with absenteeism related to chronic diseases and health risk factors.

Garrett Beeler Asay, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the correlation between employee absenteeism and 5 conditions using data from the MarketScan Health Risk Assessment and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). 

Excess absenteeism was estimated for those who reported having a risk factor (smoking, physical inactivity and obesity) or a chronic condition (hypertension and diabetes). The researchers found that depending on the risk factor or chronic disease, absenteeism estimates varied from 1 to 2 days per individual per year. Disease- and risk-factor-specific estimates were similar in MEPS and MarketScan, except for the physical inactivity and obesity estimates.

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There was an increase in absenteeism with the number of risks factors or diseases reported. Each risk factor or disease correlated with annual absenteeism costs in excess of $2 billion nationally. Per employee per year, the costs of absenteeism varied from $16 to $81 for small employers and from $17 to $286 for large employers.

“Absenteeism costs associated with chronic diseases and health risk factors can be substantial,” the authors write. “Employers may incur these costs through lower productivity and employees could incur costs through lower wages.”


Asay GRB, et al. “Absenteeism And Employer Costs Associated With Chronic Diseases And Health Risk Factors In The US Workforce”. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2016 October 6. doi: 10.5888/pcd13.150503. [Epub ahead of print]

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