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J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Nov;41(11):948-53.

Loss of work productivity due to illness and medical treatment.

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  • 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, Cambridge 02142, USA.


We examined the effects on work productivity of treatment with antihistamines in a retrospective study using linked health claims data and daily work output records for a sample of nearly 6000 claims processors at a large insurance company, between 1993 and 1995. We explained the variation in work output depending on the subjects' demographic characteristics, their jobs, and whether they were treated with "sedating" versus "nonsedating" antihistamines for nasal allergies. Differences of up to 13% in productivity were found after the subjects took sedating or nonsedating antihistamines. The observed effect suggests substantial indirect economic costs, which up to now have been largely overlooked because work productivity has proved difficult to measure objectively.

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