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The impact of allergic rhinitis on work productivity

Published online: October 7, 2017

Allergic rhinitis (AR) is increasingly suspected of having a substantial socio-economic impact resulting from impaired work productivity, although available information remains fragmented and cannot be taken efficiently into account by the medical community and policy makers.

A systematic review of original studies published from 2005 to 2015 pertaining to the impact of AR on work productivity was conducted, and a pooled analysis of results was carried out in order to provide a quantitative estimate of the burden of AR on work productivity, including lost work time (i.e. absenteeism) and reduced performance while working (i.e. presenteeism). This review also aimed to identify the factors that may affect, either negatively or positively, these productivity impairments.

Pooled analysis of studies using the validated Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaire found an estimated 2.3% missed work time and 32.5% impairment in at-work performance due to AR. Economic evaluations indicated that indirect costs associated with lost work productivity are the principal contributor to the total AR costs and result mainly from impaired presenteeism. The severity of AR symptoms was the most consistent disease-related factor associated with a greater impact of AR on work productivity, although ocular symptoms and sleep disturbances may independently affect work productivity. Overall, pharmacologic treatment of AR showed a beneficial effect on work productivity.

This systematic review confirms that AR is associated with a substantial adverse impact on work productivity, mainly in terms of impaired performance while at work (i.e. presenteeism). These findings should increase the awareness of the medical community and health policy makers of the impact of AR on work productivity and should stimulate the implementation of interventions to reduce the socioeconomic burden of AR.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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