High cost of diabetic neuropathy to US economy
To investigate the impact of diabetes and pain caused by diabetic neuropathy on lost productive time (LPT) and employment status.
19,075 US-based employees aged between 40 and 65 years who participated in a validated computer-assisted productivity telephone interview between August 2001 and February 2004.
Data from the audit were used to compare health-related LPT between individuals without diabetes (n = 18,042; the 'control' group), those with diabetes but no neuropathic symptoms (n = 642), and those with both diabetes and neuropathic pain (n = 391).
- Overall, individuals reporting diabetes with neuropathic symptoms were 18% more likely to have lost at least two hours productive time a week than controls.
- In terms of mean hours of LPT per week, those in the diabetes group with neuropathic symptoms lost significantly more time than those in the diabetes or control group (4.21 hours vs 1.91 and 1.92 hours, respectively).
- Further, regardless of whether pain was reported, the presence of diabetes increased the likelihood of an individual being unemployed by approximately twofold compared with controls.
What does this mean?
Extrapolating these findings to the entire US workforce, those with neuropathic diabetes could cost the economy an estimated US$3.65 billion annually in LPT. Health programs aimed at helping people better control diabetes could considerably improve worker productivity.