Workplace Testing Reduces Ulcer Rates

Treating those with Helicobacter pylori cut health-care costs

FRIDAY, March 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The rates of ulcers and related diseases, along with the associated costs, can be reduced through a workplace program that tests and treats employees infected with Helicobacter pylori.

That's what German researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

H. pylori is the bacterium that can lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

In this study, researchers screened more than 6,000 BASF employees based in Ludwigshafen. Thirteen percent of them were recommended for further evaluation and treatment because they had antibodies to H. pylori in their blood and findings of ulcer, dyspepsia, or a family history of stomach cancer.

After examining insurance data from two years before and two years after the screening, the researchers concluded that the rate of ulcer-related illnesses among the employees decreased by more than half after the introduction of the screening program.

Most of that reduction was seen in employees who tested positive for H. pylori and received treatment to eliminate the infection.

There was also a decline in ulcers among employees who had previous stomach symptoms but no ulcers. Rates of other gastric disorders also decreased slightly, especially among employees with ulcers.

There was an increase in the number of sick days for workers who tested positive for H. pylori but were not treated for it.

Estimated cost savings for the company were about $123,000 per year for work days lost due to ulcer and $86,000 for work days lost to other gastric diseases. The study authors estimate the screening program would pay for itself within a year or two.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about Helicobacter pylori and ulcers.

SOURCE: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, news release, March 12, 2004
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