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For Many, Work is a Real Pain

Three out of 10 employees suffer on-the-job discomfort, survey finds

WEDNESDAY, July 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 30 percent of employees in the United States have pain problems that affect their health, work performance and productivity, according to the results of an Internet survey of more than 1,000 employees of a major business services company.

The Harris Allen Group survey found that, overall, 29 percent of the workers in the survey reported ongoing problems with pain. Those with pain scored more than 45 percent lower on an overall rating of physical health than workers with no pain. Workers with pain also had a 23 percent lower mental health score.

Pain was associated with reductions in nearly every aspect of productivity measured in the survey. The more severe the pain, the greater its impact on productivity, the study found. Workers with pain were five times more likely than workers without pain to report health-related limitations in performing their job. In addition, employees with pain lost an average of three and two-thirds workdays per month, the survey found.

The impact of pain on health and productivity was especially high among workers with musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and neck and back pain. These three conditions, along with allergies and depression, were the five most common health problems reported by employees in the survey.

Many workers with pain were dissatisfied with their current pain treatment -- a finding that suggests there's considerable room for improvement in the way employees' pain is being managed, the survey authors noted.

Company programs designed to address employees' pain issues and improve their quality of life could also help a company's bottom line by providing a more productive workforce, the authors suggested.

The findings appear in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

More information

The FDA has more about chronic pain.

SOURCE: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, news release, July 11, 2005
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