Assessing the economic impact of stress--the modern day hidden epidemic

Metabolism. 2002 Jun;51(6 Suppl 1):49-53. doi: 10.1053/meta.2002.33193.


This article examines the economic effects of all forms of stress-work-related stress, home stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-as health hazards. Such an approach inherently broadens the analysis from a few well-defined, quantitative variables, such as those most commonly studied by economists who traditionally examine job stress alone. It also enables us to draw conclusions regarding the socioeconomic factors and the psychology of stress and helps in understanding the larger question of the economic cost of stress in today's global environment. Stress and its related comorbid diseases are responsible for a large proportion of disability worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey estimates that mental disease, including stress-related disorders, will be the second leading cause of disabilities by the year 2020. Although the term "stress" is used in a wide variety of contexts, it has consistently been demonstrated that individuals with stress and related disorders experience impaired physical and mental functioning, more work days lost, increased impairment at work, and a high use of health care services. The disability caused by stress is just as great as the disability caused by workplace accidents or other common medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. We present evidence that calls for early recognition of workplace stress and for businesses to allocate more resources to stress management in the workplace.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Comorbidity
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / economics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / economics*
  • Stress, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology