Objective: To evaluate the cost of lost productivity in the workplace due to allergic rhinitis compared to other selected medical conditions from an employer perspective.
Setting and participants: A total of 8267 US employees at 47 employer locations who volunteered to participate in health/wellness screenings.
Measurements: The Work Productivity Short Inventory was used to assess the impact of a predefined group of health conditions on workplace productivity for the previous 12 months. Both absenteeism and presenteeism (lost productivity while at work) were recorded. Costs were calculated using a standard hourly wage.
Results: Allergic rhinitis was the most prevalent of the selected conditions; 55% of employees reported experiencing allergic rhinitis symptoms for an average of 52.5 days, were absent 3.6 days per year due to the condition, and were unproductive 2.3 h per workday when experiencing symptoms. The mean total productivity (absenteeism + presenteeism) losses per employee per year were 593 US dollars for allergic rhinitis, 518 US dollars for high stress, 277 US dollars for migraine, 273 US dollars for depression, 269 US dollars for arthritis/rheumatism, 248 US dollars for anxiety disorder, 181 US dollars for respiratory infections, 105 US dollars for hypertension or high blood pressure, 95 US dollars for diabetes, 85 US dollars for asthma, and 40 US dollars for coronary heart disease. The mean total productivity loss per employee per year due to caregiving was 102 US dollars for pediatric respiratory infections, 85 US dollars for pediatric allergies, 49 US dollars for Alzheimer's disease, and 42 US dollars for otitis media/earache.
Conclusions: Allergies are major contributors to the total cost of health-related absenteeism and presenteeism. Payers and employers need to consider this when determining health benefits for employees.