Reports From the Field: Musculoskeletal conditions, mental health impact productivity

Musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, low-back pain, repetitive motion strain, and mental health problems — mostly depression — have the biggest negative impact on worker productivity, according to a survey by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM), a nonprofit research organization in Scottsdale, AZ.

The organization surveyed 34 employers with a total of 1.2 million employees.

The survey asked workers about the cause of absenteeism and the health and disease issues that diminished their performance at work. Pregnancy was the third-leading cause of absences from work.

Few of the employers surveyed offer disease management programs for musculoskeletal conditions or mental problems, the report says.

"If more employers established disease management programs to deal with these health issues, they would be able to reduce their overall health-related costs while increasing productivity," says Scott Sullivan, president and CEO of IHPM. For more information on the IHPM, see its web site at