The thoughtful observations by Dr Gandjour regarding issues in measuring productivity loss and its relevance to employers underscore the difficulties in quantifying this concept and making it meaningful for subsequent action. Using employer payments for days absent from work as one part of measuring productivity has the advantage of allowing for comparisons between direct and indirect costs in terms of dollars that are not present for other potentially important consequences of illness and its treatment (eg, quality of life and activities of daily living). In additional, research elsewhere found that actual productivity reductions are much larger than absenteeism of employees with IBS.1 These results likely are dependent on the job- and occupation-specific context. Several observations may clarify why this approach has value to employers, specifically in the context of IBS, a highly prevalent, disruptive, and costly condition.
Birnbaum H, Leong S, Thibeault C, Ben-Hamadi R, Greenberg P, Barghout V, Frech F, Ofman J. Productivity Loss Due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome—Reply. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(18):2249–2250. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.18.2249-a