Managing the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on workforce health and productivity: upping a leading employer's game

J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Sep;54(9):1064-77. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182590317.


Objective: To develop new evidence for advancing a leading employer's capacity to manage the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: Retrospective analyses of an integrated database tracking active employees (n = 19,989) from 2001-2009. Tests on 29 measures of direct/indirect costs and drivers examined unique disease burden and impact over time.

Results: The costs of COPD exceeded workforce-wide costs by wide margins in 2001-2002. Direct costs linked to the disease rose in 2008-2009; whereas, its indirect costs dropped sharply. Differences between yet-to-be-diagnosed versus diagnosed and newly diagnosed versus established diagnosed groups were directionally consistent on driver and cost measures in 2001-2002. In 2008-2009, these comparisons were similarly consistent on indirect measures but not direct measures. Medication use helped to explain the inconsistencies.

Discussion: New action on COPD-oriented unit price escalation, prevention, and medical management concerns raised by these results could strengthen an already exemplary health and productivity program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chicago
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / economics*
  • Retrospective Studies