Impact of bipolar disorder in employed populations

Am J Manag Care. 2008 Nov;14(11):757-64.


Objective: To review literature on the impact of bipolar disorder on the workplace, with respect to costs to employers, workplace productivity and functioning, and any employer-initiated programs implemented with the aim of improving work attendance and performance.

Study design: Systematic literature review.

Methods: Original studies relating to bipolar disorder in the workplace were identified from PubMed and EMBASE using a reproducible, systematic search strategy in July 2007. There were no constraints on publication dates. Results were first evaluated by title and/or abstract. Full manuscripts of potentially relevant papers then were obtained and assessed for inclusion. Productivity data were extracted in terms of absenteeism, short-term disability, presenteeism, and any associated cost burden to US employers.

Results: Seventeen studies met search criteria and were included in this review. The data indicate that bipolar disorder imposes a significant financial burden on employers, costing more than twice as much as depression per affected employee. A large proportion of the total cost of bipolar disorder is attributable to indirect costs from lost productivity, arising from absenteeism and presenteeism. The presence of comorbid conditions and stigma in the workplace may lead to delays in accurate diagnosis and effective management of bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: Bipolar disorder among the working population can have a significant, negative effect on work relationships, attendance, and functioning, which can lead to substantial costs to US employers arising from lost productivity. There is a need for workplace initiatives to address the health and cost consequences of bipolar disorder within an employed population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Bipolar Disorder / economics*
  • Efficiency
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Sick Leave / economics
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Workplace / economics*
  • Workplace / psychology