Examining the Comparative Incidence and Costs of Physical and Mental Health-Related Disabilities in an Employed Population


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Abstract

Objective:To address gaps in knowledge about disability rates and costs of short-term disability by answering the following questions: (1) what is the incidence and the costs of short-term disability episodes related to mental disorders? and (2) how do these figures compare with those of short-term disability episodes related to physical disorders?Methods:The data set comes from a Canadian resource sector company's 2003–2006 short-term disability leave and human resource data sets. The multi-year data set consists of 33,913 records for all nonseasonal employees. The study focused on all episodes that began in 2003, 2004, or 2005. There are 12,407 unique employees represented.Results:The overall disability rate was 14.5 episodes/100 person-years. The top five primary categories of disability episodes were respiratory disorder (2.3/100 person-years), musculoskeletal disorder (1.9/100 person-years), mental/behavioral disorder (2.1/100 person-years), injury (2.0/100 person-years), and digestive disorder (1.3/100 person-years). The mean disability episode was 33 days, and the mean cost was $9027/episode. Highest episode costs were associated with mental/behavioral disorder-related episodes ($18,000/episode), and the lowest costs were for respiratory disorders ($3000/episode).Conclusions:The results underscore that although disability related to mental/behavioral disorders may not comprise the largest proportion of cases, they represent the largest costs.

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