Despite treatment, depressed workers have higher short-term disability costs
In the report, issued in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers from Thomson Reuters Healthcare in Washington, D.C., used insurance claims and employee health and productivity databases to examine the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs. The results suggested that employees with depression were approximately twice as likely to use short-term disability leave compared to workers without depression. For individuals with severe depression, the short-term disability rate was three times higher. Employees with depression also missed more workdays.
"Even after receiving antidepressant treatment, patients with depression still have significant productivity deficits," said Suellen Curkendall, lead author of the study.
Researchers estimated annual short-term disability costs at about $1,000 per worker with depression and $1,700 per worker with severe depression -- significantly higher than for common diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Curkendall said many studies have linked depression to reduced productivity at work but less is known about how productivity is affected by treatment for depression. This study shows that even in workers taking antidepressant drugs depression is associated with increased disability and absenteeism.
Researchers said the productivity losses probably result from depression or depressive symptoms that persist despite treatment.
"Therapies that can better manage depression may provide opportunities for savings to employers," Curkendall said.
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March 15, 2010
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