Heath problems lead to considerable productivity loss at work among workers with high physical load jobs

W.J. Meerding, W IJzelenberg, M.A. Koopmanschap, J.L. Severens, A. Burdorf

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To assess the feasibility and validity of two instruments for the measurement of health-related productivity loss at work.

Study design and setting: A cross-sectional study was conducted in two occupational populations with a high prevalence of health problems: industrial workers (n=388) and construction workers (n=182). We collected information on self-reported productivity during the previous 2 weeks and during the last work day with the Health and Labor Questionnaire (HLQ) and the Quantity and Quality instrument (QQ), with added data on job characteristics, general health, presence of musculoskeletal complaints, sick leave, and health-care consumption. For construction workers, we validated self-reported productivity with objective information on daily work output from 19 work site observations.

Results: About half the workers with health problems on the last working day reported reduced work productivity (QQ), or 10.7% of all industrial workers and 11.8% of all construction workers, resulting in a mean loss of 2.0 hr/day per worker with reduced work productivity. The proportion of workers with reduced productivity was significantly lower on the HLQ: 5.3% of industrial workers and 6.5% of construction workers. Reduced work productivity on the HLQ and the QQ was significantly associated with musculoskeletal complaints, worse physical, mental and general health, and recent absenteeism. The QQ and HLQ questionnaires demonstrated poor agreement on the reporting of reduced productivity. Self-reported productivity on the QQ correlated significantly with objective work output (r=.48).

Conclusion: Health problems may lead to considerable sickness presenteeism. The QQ measurement instrument is better understandable, and more feasible for jobs with low opportunities for catching up on backlogs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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