Published online Dec 7, 2005. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v11.i45.7148
Revised: June 13, 2005
Accepted: June 18, 2005
Published online: December 7, 2005
AIM: To study the association of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) with the absence from work and to estimate the extent of loss in gross domestic product due to inability to work.
METHODS: Analysis was based on the prospectively gathered data of a large European cohort study involving 6 215 symptomatic GERD patients (ProGERD). Among these patients, 2 871 were initially employed. The calculation of the loss of gross domestic product was based on the assumption that the prevalence of GERD was about 15% in Germany. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the mean gross wage of employees was 150 €/d in 2002.
RESULTS: The data of 2 078 employed patients who were prospectively followed up for over 2 years were analyzed. At study entry, the patients reported a mean of 1.8 d per year of inability to work. During the prospective follow-up under routine clinical care, the proportion of patients reporting days with inability to work decreased from 14% to 6% and the mean number of days per year with inability to work decreased to 0.9 d. Assuming a prevalence of troublesome GERD of 15% in the employed German population, the loss of gross domestic product amounted to 668 million €/year in Germany.
CONCLUSION: GERD causes a relevant impairment on the national economics by absence from work. The presented data demonstrate the importance of GERD, not only for patients and health insurance companies, but also for the community at large.