The Burden of Allergies—and the Capacity of Medications to Reduce This Burden—in a Heavy Manufacturing Environment

International Truck & Engine Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.63). 10/2003; 45(9):941-55. DOI: 10.1097/01.jom.0000090468.73649.50
Source: PubMed


This article addresses the observational findings of the first systematic study undertaken by a manufacturer to address the impact of allergies and use of allergy medications on health, safety, and productivity. It provides background for 3 other papers from the same project, including an evaluation of an intervention to promote appropriate medication use among affected employees, which appear in this issue. The observational data are developed on 10,714 employees from: 1) 2 employee surveys; 2) administrative databases monitoring employee absenteeism, workers compensation, short-term disability, and group health. The results show that health, productivity, absenteeism, workplace injury, and workers compensation measures register consistent declines as allergy severity levels increase. This pattern is present but less pronounced for the short-term disability and group health measures. In addition, among the 16 measures registering a significant allergy burden, 6 posted significant advantages for the use of nonsedating antihistamines relative to other medication regimens that included sedative antihistamines. These results document the burden of allergies and the capacity of medications to reduce this burden. Effective intervention programs that target this condition can achieve improved health, productivity, and related outcomes.

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    • "With these well meaning but siloed efforts, employers still experienced a rising tide of total costs – because even though they saw savings in one area, it often led to greater expense in another area. An example of that was taking a higher cost antihistamine off a drug formulary to save money by switching people to the lower cost antihistamine, only to find the sedating side effects of the cheaper antihistamine led to drowsiness at work and subsequent increase in presenteeism and on-the-job injuries and ultimately higher total costs – in spite of a lower pharmacy spend (Bunn et al., 2003). One of the reasons we see such an emphasis on value-based benefit design is to focus on what will truly add broader value in better health outcomes and lower total costs from an overall integrated population health and productivity enhancement perspective, rather than having blinders on to impact only one cost silo just because that is the way employer benefit administrative functions were established (Lynch et al., 2004). "
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