Review

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3715

Productivity estimation in economic evaluations of occupational health and safety interventions: a systematic review

by Steel J, Godderis L, Luyten J

Objectives Occupational health and safety (OHS) interventions` effect on worker productivity is an essential, but complex element of the value of these programs. The trustworthiness of economic evaluation studies, aiming to provide guidance to decision-makers in the field of OHS, depends at least partly on how accurately productivity changes are measured. We aim to review the methods used to estimate productivity changes in recently published economic evaluations of OHS interventions.

Methods We performed systematic searches of economic evaluations of OHS programs published between 2007 and 2017 and reviewed these studies` methods to quantify the programs` impact on worker productivity

Results Of the 90 identified studies, 44 used a human capital approach, 17 a friction cost approach, 13 stated productivity in natural units (eg, a cost-per-absence-day-avoided), 7 made use of compensation expenses, 4 used output-based methods, 4 an "ad hoc" approach, and 1 study did not state its method. Different approaches were combined in 19 studies. Within these methods, we observed a wide diversity in their precise implementation, especially regarding the measurement and valuation of absenteeism and presenteeism.

Conclusions Productivity is a key element of the economic attractiveness of investing in OHS. Economic evaluation studies of OHS would benefit from more methodological standardization in their approach to quantifying productivity change. Future research should better account for the methodological uncertainty that occurs in estimating it in order to demonstrate the impact that particular choices and approaches to productivity estimation can have on cost-effectiveness results.

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