Presenteeism in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Hidden Problem with Significant Economic Impact

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Jul;21(7):1623-30. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000399.


Background: Indirect costs associated with impaired productivity at work (presenteeism) due to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are a major contributor to health expenditures. Studies estimating indirect costs in the United States did not take presenteeism into account. We aimed to quantify work limitations and presenteeism and its associated costs in an IBD population to generate recommendations to reduce presenteeism and decrease indirect costs.

Methods: We performed a prospective study at a tertiary IBD center. During clinic visits, work productivity, work-related problems and adjustments, quality of life, and disease activity were assessed in patients with IBD. Work productivity and impairment were assessed in a control population as well. Indirect costs associated with lost work hours (absenteeism) and presenteeism were estimated, as well as the effect of disease activity on those costs.

Results: Of the 440 included patients with IBD, 35.6% were unemployed. Significantly more presenteeism was detected in patients with IBD (62.9%) compared with controls (27.3%) (P = 0.004), with no significant differences in absenteeism. Patients in remission experienced significantly more presenteeism than controls (54.7% versus 27.3%, respectively, P < 0.01), and indirect costs were significantly higher for remissive patients versus controls ($17,766 per yr versus $9179 per yr, respectively, P < 0.03). Only 34.3% had made adjustments to battle work-related problems such as fatigue, irritability, and decreased motivation.

Conclusions: Patients with IBD in clinical remission still cope with significantly more presenteeism and work limitations than controls; this translates in higher indirect costs and decreased quality of life. The majority have not made any adjustments to battle these problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / economics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Presenteeism / economics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult