Publication Details

Musich, S. A., Spooner, M., Baaner, S. & Hook, D. (2006). The economic value of healthy workers. National Health Outcomes Conference Wollongong, Australia: Australian Health Outcomes Collaboration.



1) To demonstrate the feasibility of a designed intervention in changing targeted health behaviors and 2) to evaluate the impact of changes in health risks on the two measures of job performance (a self-reported measure of health-related work impairment (presenteeism) and an objective measure of illness absenteeism).


A pre/post study design (2004-2005) utilizing Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) data to assess changes in prevalence of individual health risks and changes in two productivity measures.

Setting and Subjects

Employees of a private insurance provider in Australia.


An HRA questionnaire was used to evaluate self-reported work impairment on different aspects of job demands and to assess the prevalence of health risks during March 2004 with a follow-up assessment December 2005. Absence hours due to illness (illness absenteeism) were obtained from company administrative records.


The most improved health risks associated with the on-site lifestyle program interventions were increased physical activity, better perception of physical health and reduction in smoking although some health risks increased during the time period (e.g., job dissatisfaction and high stress). Changes in percentages of work impairment were significantly associated with changes in numbers of health risks—as health risks decreased, work impairment decreased; as health risks increased, work impairment increased. On average, each risk factor increased or reduced over time was associated with an incremental change of 4.2 percentage points of work impairment. Although there was a trend for changes in illness absenteeism to follow changes in health risks, the differences were not statistically significant.


This study demonstrates 1) the impact of a designed intervention program on changing health behaviors and 2) preliminary results indicating that changes in productivity measures follow changes in health risks. The study provides a first indication of the potential benefits of health promotion programming to Australian employees in improving health and to the corporation in minimizing health-related productivity loss.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Health Outcomes Collaboration

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