Research Updates

Screening the future

Hannah Bourne

Clinicians and leading researchers evaluate the effectiveness of early screening in preventing long-term disability in patients with back problems.
Take Home Messages:

Surveys such as the Work Productivity Short Inventory (WPSI) and the Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ) may provide an effective means of assessing workplace productivity losses. 

Why the research matters:

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the health of workers has a significant impact on workplace productivity.  But in order to assess the impact of health on productivity, appropriate data collection tools must be developed.

What the research involved:

This study looked at the use of two different surveys for assessing workplace productivity and time lost due to illness:

  • The Work Productivity Short Inventory (WPSI); and
  • The Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ). 

These two tools were trailed on the same employees working at a large telecommunications firm.

Summary of research findings:

The study found:

  • The average losses due to decreased workplace productivity were $2000 to $2800 per employee per year; and
  • Decreased productivity was associated with perceived health status and the existence of particular medical conditions.

In comparing the two surveys, the study ascertained that:

  • The average losses in workplace productivity were 4.9% as measured by the WLQ and 6.9% as measured by the WPSI;
  • The WLQ is useful for assessing:
  • Overall productivity concerns; and
  • The impact on productivity of the worker’s ability to handle physical, mental, interpersonal, time management, and workload challenges; and
  • The WPSI is useful for:
  • Assessing the impact of individual diseases or conditions on productivity; and
  • Estimating the financial losses caused by decreased productivity.
Original research:

The application of two health and productivity instruments at a large employer.

Ozminkowski RJ, Goetzel RZ, Chang S, Long S.

J Occup Environ Med. 2004 Jul;46(7):635-48.

Link to PubMed abstract