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Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

921Z6KL - Estimating the Economic Burden of Job Stress - A Pilot Study

Start Date: 10/1/2006
End Date: 9/30/2010

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Tapas Ray
Phone: 513-533-8627
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed
9.0

Secondary Goal Addressed
None


Attributed to Manufacturing
50%

Project Description

Short Summary

Although work-related stress is recognized as a severe risk factor for injuries and illnesses in and out of the workplace, across all industry sectors including that of construction, there is an absence of reliable data on the true economic costs associated with stressful working conditions borne by workers and their families, organizations, and the society in general. Information of this nature is important for motivating interventions and evaluating results. The proposed developmental study is examining current evidence and knowledge gaps on economic costs associated with work stress and develop a study plan for a comprehensive cost analysis. The project will lead to a publication on current evidence on the costs of job stress and set the ground for a 2010 NORA cross-cutting sector based study on economic consequences of job stress.



Description

Although work-related stress is recognized as a severe risk factor for injuries and illnesses in and out of the workplace, there is an absence of reliable data on the true economic costs associated with stressful working conditions borne by workers and their families, organizations, and the society in general. Information of this nature is important for motivating interventions and evaluating results. The current study examines current evidence and knowledge gaps on economic costs associated with work stress and develops a study plan for a comprehensive cost analysis.

The most common approach to calculate the economic burden of any injury or illness is the Human Capital approach which is mostly used in the literature as compared to its competitor the Willingness to Pay (WTP) approach. The Human Capital Approach identifies incidence or prevalence based direct (medical and health expenditure) and indirect (work loss, reduced productivity) costs from workers' compensation claims and health care utilization data. Previous endeavors like that of Greenberg et al. (1993) follow this approach to come up with prevalence based estimates of depression in 1990 that includes direct costs of medical care, mortality costs arising from depression related suicides, and morbidity costs associated with depression in the workplace. Also, Goetzel (1996) and Webster & Bergman (1999) compared health expenses and duration of illness of population with and without psychological disorders (either identified by physician primary diagnosis code or by survey response). The human capital approach evaluates a persons' worth to the society by the persons' productive contributions to the society which again is measured by the individual's lifetime earnings. A related approach that falls under the same Human Capital methodology is followed in context of other nations by Cooper et al, 1996; Levi & Lunde-Jensen, 1995 and Madhu Kalia 2002 whereby costs of illness conditions attributable to stress has been estimated separately and then aggregated to estimate the total cost. The prevalence of work stress however remained unattended in their works and hence the economic burden solely due to work stress is unidentified. These studies rely on claims based data which are often underreported and fail to estimate the true incidence. Some of the claims, specifically those that fall under mental-mental and physical –mental categories fail to surface in the claims data set (Lippel, 1989).

The second commonly used approach to valuing human life considers how much a person would pay to avoid an illness or death. Unlike the Human Capital methodology the Willingness to Pay approach incorporates the adverse effects of pain and sufferings or other quality-of-life issues (Viscusi, 1990). This approach is more commonly used in valuing environmental goods and is hard to implement as it often needs contingent evaluation methods through well designed surveys.

The plan of this pilot study was to survey, compare and contrast the available literature in light of the above two methods, to gather evidences of costs due to work-stress, to point out the gaps that exist in the current literature as for example the failure to account for the comorbidity as mentioned above, and finally to propose a comprehensive methodology/study that will help in identifying the true economic burden of work stress and stress related disorders. While the secondary research is nearing completion, assembling the research and analyzing the same to generate a comprehensive methodology requires further time and effort.



Objectives

Addresses the objective of 1) examining the current literature, and 2) synthesizing methodologies that can be used in estimating economic burden of job-stress in the US. This will provide the initial groundwork for undertaking a comprehensive study that will analyze the costs incurred by work related stress and will measure the economic burden posed to the employers and to the nation by the presence of the same.

For project evaluation purpose by 2010, the following potential outputs (completed) will be considered:

i) Publication of the report in a trade journal.

ii) Submission to a peer reviewed scientific journal.

iii) Preparation for a NORA project based on the findings.

iv) Collaboration with researchers to provide feedbacks to the methodology.



Page last updated: June 3, 2011
Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director

 

NIOSH Program:

Manufacturing