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J Occup Med. 1994 Sep;36(9):983-8.

The economic impact of depression in a workplace.

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  • 1First Chicago Corporation, Illinois 60670-0006.


Epidemiological studies hold that depressive disorders are among the most common forms of mental illness in the population and should produce a substantial economic impact upon corporate America. However, only a few studies have examined the economic impact of depression in the workplace. A study of the medical and disability costs of depressive disorders was conducted at the First Chicago Corporation. In this analysis, short-term disability data, medical plan costs and Employee Assistance Program referral data for depressive disorders were compared with selected common chronic medical conditions. The average length of disability and the disability relapse rate was greater for depressive disorders than for the comparison medical groups. Depressive disorders were also found to have the largest medical plan costs of all behavioral health diagnoses. Finally, depressive disorders proved to be the most common Axis-I-level diagnosis encountered in the Employee Assistance Program. These findings have important implications for medical benefit plan design, disability plan management, and occupational health professionals' training. The observed higher prevalence of these disorders in women force their recognition as a women's health issue.

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