High-quality care for depression can improve productivity at work and lower rates of workplace absenteeism, according to a new report.A two-year program for depressed employees treated at 12 primary care practices nationwide improved productivity at work by an average of 6 percent, or an estimated annual value of $1,491 per depressed full-time employee. The program reduced absenteeism by 22 percent in two years, saving the companies an estimated $539 for each depressed full-time employee.
The study published in the journal Medical Care is among the first research to “demonstrate that improving the quality of care for any chronic disease has positive consequences for productivity and absenteeism,” say Kathryn Rost, Ph.D., of University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and colleagues.
“Over the short term, improvements in productivity generally benefit the majority of American employers who pay salaries rather than reimburse workers for piecework or by commission. And over the longer term, improvements in productivity may translate into employee raises,” Rost explains.
The program included 326 full- or part-time blue-collar and white-collar workers who were diagnosed with depression at the start of the study. The workers were randomly assigned to receive either standard or “enhanced” depression treatment from specially trained primary care providers who encouraged workers to consider antidepressant medication and/or counseling.
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