Value of laboratory tests in employer-sponsored health risk assessments for newly identifying health conditions: analysis of 52,270 participants

PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28201. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028201. Epub 2011 Dec 7.


Background: Employer-sponsored health risk assessments (HRA) may include laboratory tests to provide evidence of disease and disease risks for common medical conditions. We evaluated the ability of HRA-laboratory testing to provide new disease-risk information to participants.

Methodology/principal findings: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of HRA-laboratory results for participating adult employees and their eligible spouses or their domestic partners, focusing on three common health conditions: hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney disease. HRA with laboratory results of 52,270 first-time participants were analyzed. Nearly all participants had access to health insurance coverage. Twenty-four percent (12,392) self-reported one or more of these medical conditions: 21.1% (11,017) self-identified as having hyperlipidemia, 4.7% (2,479) self-identified as having diabetes, and 0.7% (352) self-identified as having chronic kidney disease. Overall, 36% (n = 18,540) of participants had laboratory evidence of at least one medical condition newly identified: 30.7% (16,032) had laboratory evidence of hyperlipidemia identified, 1.9% (984) had laboratory evidence of diabetes identified, and 5.5% (2,866) had laboratory evidence of chronic kidney disease identified. Of all participants with evidence of hyperlipidemia 59% (16,030 of 27,047), were newly identified through the HRA. Among those with evidence of diabetes 28% (984 of 3,463) were newly identified. The highest rate of newly identified disease risk was for chronic kidney disease: 89% (2,866 of 3,218) of participants with evidence of this condition had not self-reported it. Men (39%) were more likely than women (33%) to have at least one newly identified condition (p<0.0001). Among men, lower levels of educational achievement were associated with modestly higher rates of newly identified disease risk (p<0.0001); the association with educational achievement among women was unclear. Even among the youngest age range (20 to 29 year olds), nearly 1 in 4 participants (24%) had a newly identified risk for disease.

Conclusions/significance: These results support the important role of employer-sponsored laboratory testing as an integral element of HRA for identifying evidence of previously undiagnosed common medical conditions in individuals of all working age ranges, regardless of educational level and gender.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chemistry, Clinical / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Hyperlipidemias / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health / standards*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States
  • Workplace