Objective: The goal of this analysis was to evaluate the impact of gout, a painful inflammatory arthritis condition, on an employed population's health-related work absence and objectively measured productivity output.
Methods: Payroll, demographic, medical, pharmaceutical, sick leave, short- and long-term disability, and workers' compensation data were collected from multiple large employers with employees widely dispersed across the United States. Data were collected during the time period of 2001 to 2004 from approximately 300,000 employees. Objective productivity output data were also available for a subset of employees (captured electronically in the form of units of work processed per person). T-tests and chi-square tests were used to compare demographic data. Two-stage multivariate regression models were used to compare annual work absence and at-work productivity between employees with and without gout, while controlling for group differences in demographics, salary, other work-related variables, and comorbidities (using the Charlson Comorbidity Index).
Results: The annual prevalence of gout was 4.7 per 1000 employees from 2001 to 2004. Employees with gout had 4.56 more annual absence days for all categories of health-related work absence than those without gout. Objective productivity (units of work processed) results were only available for a small subsample of employees (86 with gout and 27,472 without gout). Employees with gout processed 3.51% fewer units per hour worked and 2.38% fewer units per year than employees without gout (nonsignificant at P = 0.49 and P = 0.78, respectively).
Conclusion: This study suggests that gout has a substantial impact on work absence and may also negatively impact productivity.