Background: There has been increasing recognition that osteoarthritis (OA) affects younger individuals who are still participants in the workforce, but there are only limited data on the contribution of OA pain to work productivity and other outcomes in an employed population. This study evaluated the impact of OA pain on healthcare resource utilization, productivity and costs in employed individuals.
Methods: Data were derived from the 2009 National Health and Wellness Survey. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to characterize employed individuals (full-time, part-time, or self-employed) ≥ 20 years of age who were diagnosed with OA and had arthritis pain in the past month relative to employed individuals not diagnosed with OA or not experiencing arthritis pain in the past month. Work productivity was assessed using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaire; health status was assessed using the physical (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores from the SF-12v2 Health Survey and SF-6D health utilities; and healthcare utilization was evaluated by type and number of resources within the past 6 months. Direct and indirect costs were estimated and compared between the two cohorts.
Results: Individuals with OA pain were less likely to be employed. Relative to workers without OA pain (n = 37,599), the OA pain cohort (n = 2,173) was significantly older (mean age 52.1 ± 11.5 years vs 41.4 ± 13.2 years; P < 0.0001) and with a greater proportion of females (58.2% vs 45.9%; P < 0.0001). OA pain resulted in greater work impairment than among workers without OA pain (34.4% versus 17.8%; P < 0.0001), and was primarily due to presenteeism (impaired activity while at work). Health status, assessed both by the SF-12v2 and the SF-6D was significantly poorer among workers with OA pain (P < 0.0001), and healthcare resource utilization was significantly higher (P < 0.0001) than workers without OA pain. Total costs were higher in the OA pain cohort ($15,047 versus $8,175; P < 0.0001), driven by indirect costs that accounted for approximately 75% of total costs.
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of workers suffer from OA pain. After controlling for confounders, the impact of OA pain was significant, resulting in lower productivity and higher costs.