Employer Medication Adherence, Comorbidities, and Health Risk Impacts on Workforce Absence and Job Performance

While medication adherence is a critical element in reducing the impact of illness, employers should view it as just one of multiple components that are needed in strategic employee disease-management initiatives, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM).  The study suggests that individual health risks and comorbidity – that is, the presence of more than one chronic disease – remain significant predictors of reduced workplace productivity, even in a population with a high rate of medication adherence. The study found significant links across the population studied between high health-risks and lower job performance, while comorbidity was a significant predictor of absenteeism in five of the study’s nine subsamples. Researchers gathered data from more than 64,000 workers with chronic health conditions, spread over five employers, making it one of the largest studies of its kind. The analysis evaluated the impact of medication adherence, comorbidity, health risks and other factors on markers of workforce productivity such as absenteeism and job performance (also known as “presenteeism”). The research was coordinated by a team from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), Alere Health, and the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), and was funded by the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC).  The study corroborates previous evidence linking the number of comorbidities in employees with their level of absence from work. The study is a follow-up to a 2009 study by the same group titled “Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy,” which suggested that employers’ health-related lost productivity costs for chronic diseases are significantly higher than their medical and pharmacy costs.  The 2009 study recommended further research on the impact of medication adherence on lost productivity. While more investigation is needed on the connection between health-risk status, comorbidity and medication adherence on productivity, the authors said the study strongly supports the need for employers to manage the growing impact of chronic disease on their workers.   Press Release: Study Sheds Light on Impact of Medication Adherence, Mulitple Chronic Diseases and Health Risks in the Workplace