Using the interaction of mental health symptoms and treatment status to estimate lost employee productivity

Hilton, Michael F., Scuffham, Paul A., Vecchio, Nerina and Whiteford, Harvey A. (2010) Using the interaction of mental health symptoms and treatment status to estimate lost employee productivity. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 44 2: 151-161. doi:10.3109/00048670903393605

Author Hilton, Michael F.
Scuffham, Paul A.
Vecchio, Nerina
Whiteford, Harvey A.
Title Using the interaction of mental health symptoms and treatment status to estimate lost employee productivity
Journal name Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1440-1614
Publication date 2010-02
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3109/00048670903393605
Volume 44
Issue 2
Start page 151
End page 161
Total pages 11
Editor Gin S. Malhi
Place of publication London, U.K
Publisher Informa Healthcare
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objective: In Australia it has been estimated that mental health symptoms result in a loss of $ AU2.7 billion in employee productivity. To date, however, there has been only one study quantifying employee productivity decrements due to mental disorders when treatment-seeking behaviours are considered. The aim of the current paper was to estimate employee work productivity by mental health symptoms while considering different treatment-seeking behaviours.

Method: A total of 60 556 full-time employees responded to the World Health Organization Health and Work Performance Questionnaire. This questionnaire is designed to monitor the work productivity of employees for chronic and acute physical and mental health conditions. Contained within the questionnaire is the Kessler 6, a scale measuring psychological distress along with an evaluation of employee treatment-seeking behaviours for depression, anxiety and any other emotional problems. A univariate analysis of variance was performed for employee productivity using the interaction between Kessler 6 severity categories and treatment-seeking behaviours.

Results: A total of 9.6% of employees have moderate psychological distress and a further 4.5% have high psychological distress. Increasing psychological distress from low to moderate then to high levels is associated with increasing productivity decrements (6.4%, 9.4% and 20.9% decrements, respectively) for employees in current treatment. Combining the prevalence of Kessler 6 categories with treatment-seeking behaviours, mean 2009 salaries and number of Australian employees in 2009, it is estimated that psychological distress produces an $ AU5.9 billion reduction in Australian employee productivity per annum.

Conclusions: The estimated loss of $ AU5.9 billion in employee productivity due to mental health problems is substantially higher than previous estimates. This finding is especially pertinent given the global economic crisis, when psychological distress among employees is likely to be increasing. Effective treatment for mental health problems yields substantial increases in employee productivity and would be a sound economic investment for employers.
© 2010 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Keyword Efficiency
Mental health
Occupational health
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 19 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 09 Mar 2011, 16:00:49 EST by Geraldine Fitzgerald on behalf of School of Public Health