Background: In the field of gastrointestinal disease, productivity costs are highly relevant because work loss is substantial in dyspeptic patients. Productivity costs are normally calculated by multiplying days absent valued by gross earnings. This, however, might lead to an overestimation.
Aim: To use a conservative approach to calculating productivity costs, taking absence compensating mechanisms into account.
Methods: Patients who visited their general practitioner for the first time with dyspeptic complaints and patients who were known to have persistent dyspeptic complaints were enrolled in two studies. In total, 136 patients completed a questionnaire about their employment situation, absence from work and absence compensating mechanisms.
Results: Sixty-six of the respondents had a paid job, of which 25 (38%) reported absence from work during the previous 4 weeks (average 3.0 days, 1.9 days related to dyspeptic complaints). More than 50% of the employed respondents answered that absence could be compensated for by colleagues, and only in 8% of the cases was absence compensated for by overtime. Using our conservative approach, only one-quarter of the productivity costs remained, compared to the current approach of valuing each day absent as a loss of productivity.
Conclusions: We suggest using both the current and the conservative approaches, analogous to the principles of sensitivity analysis, to avoid overestimation of productivity costs.