Objectives Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a leading cause of work absenteeism. Risk for MSD is multi-dimensional, and individuals with MSDs have a diverse array of co-morbid mental and physical illnesses that impact productivity in the work place. We examined the prevalence of MSDs, including low back pain (LBP), among US-based workers for a large manufacturing company.
Methods Health insurance claims data for 25,419 employees from 2006 through 2011 were used to determine eligibility and outcome status. 92% of the workforce is enrolled in a company-sponsored health insurance plan. Employees were categorised as ever having any MSD according to the presence of at least one insurance claim for a list of conditions based on ICD-9 codes. Prevalence of and trends in MSD rates were evaluated for demographic and occupational characteristics.
Results Eligible workers were predominantly white (73%) and male (75%). Median age was 50 years old. The annual average proportion of employees who had at least one MSD insurance claim was 36%. More than 33% of the MSD claims were for LBP. Female employees were more likely to have an MSD-related insurance claim than males (p < 0.01). The annual prevalence rate was consistent during the eligibility period, and a strong linear trend between age and any MSD-related claim was observed (p < 0.01).
Conclusions The findings of this analysis highlight the magnitude of MSD prevalence for an ageing workforce. The prevalence of MSDs based on insurance claims was consistent with rates reported by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics for MSDs involving work absences from 1992 to 2007 (29 to 34%). The claims-based prevalence for this workforce was lower than the self-reported proportion of MSD for the U. S. adult population (48%). These results will inform identification and management of occupational conditions that address the impact of MSDs on work productivity.
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