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Quantifying the Impact of Stress on Your Employee Population’s Health

By Emily Gugger/Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Research has consistently shown a link between stress and employee health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented studies over the past 20 years that demonstrate a connection between the role of stress and the development of not-as-visible impacts, such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, and others.1

We examined the impact of self-reported stress on healthcare cost and utilization, as well as the prevalence of chronic diseases. As employers are increasingly offering programs targeted at managing stress, we wanted to evaluate the relationship between stress and employees' claims-based healthcare experience using our MarketScan® normative database, which contains the healthcare experience of more than 120 million privately insured individuals and spans 18 years.

A total of 238,498 active employees met the study criteria, which required them to have self-reported data on stress and continuously be enrolled with medical and prescription drug coverage. Using their health risk assessment data, we grouped these employees into three separate levels: little or no stress (58% of the group), stressed, but coping (27%), and stressed, not coping (15%).

Results from the Study

Our analysts adjusted the results using linear regression models that controlled for age, gender, geographic region, plan type and whether employees were paid on an hourly or salaried basis. The study found that:

  • Females younger than 40 were more likely to be stressed.
  • Employees who identified themselves as stressed, not coping were 200% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who identified as having little or no stress.
  • Those who identified themselves as stressed, but coping had a 15% higher claims cost after application of contractual discounts (annual allowed amount per member per year) than those who reporting having little to no stress.
  • Employees who identified as stressed, not coping had 53% more emergency room visits.
  • Coronary artery disease was 64% more prevalent in employees who identified themselves as stressed, not coping than those who reported having little to no stress.

What Can Employers Do With These Results?

Employers can analyze the impact of stress in their population and use the results to inform strategies to build a culture that allows employees to be more resilient in handling stress. Contact us to find out how we can help with disease management and other program evaluation.

Emily Gugger, Analytic Advisor
Payer Analytics & Consulting

1 “STRESS ... At Work,” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division, CDC, Publication Number 99-101, updated June 6, 2014, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf

 

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