Alcohol- and drug-related absenteeism: a costly problem

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Abstract

Objective:

Absenteeism related to alcohol and other drug (AOD) use can place a substantial burden on businesses and society. This study estimated the cost of AOD-related absenteeism in Australia using a nationally representative dataset.

Methods:

A secondary analysis of the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (n=12,196) was undertaken. Two measures of AOD-related absenteeism were used: participants’ self-reported absence due to AOD use (M1); and the mean difference in absence due to any illness/injury for AOD users compared to abstainers (M2). Both figures were multiplied by $267.70 (average day's wage in 2013 plus 20% on-costs) to estimate associated costs.

Results:

M1 resulted in an estimation of 2.5 million days lost annually due to AOD use, at a cost of more than $680 million. M2 resulted in an estimation of almost 11.5 million days lost, at a cost of $3 billion.

Conclusions:

AOD-related absenteeism represents a significant and preventable impost upon Australian businesses.

Implications:

Workplaces should implement evidence-based interventions to promote healthy employee behaviour and reduce AOD-related absenteeism.

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