Indirect costs associated with early exit from work attributable to rheumatic diseases

Pedro A. Laires*, Helena Canhão, Miguel Gouveia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rheumatic diseases (RD) cause physical disability that may lead to early exit from work, generating indirect costs to society. We aimed to measure these costs in a population approaching the statutory retirement age. Methods: The analysis was based on the prevalence of self-reported RD using a bottom-up approach. Health and sociodemographic data were retrieved from the fourth National Health Survey (INS), for all people between 50 and 64 years of age (3762 men and 4241 women), whereas an official national database was used to estimate productivity values by gender, age group and region, using the human capital approach. The effects of RD on the likelihood of early exit from paid employment and the attributable fractions estimates were obtained at the individual level by logistic regression. Results: At the time of the survey, 37.2% of the population aged 50-64 years self-reported at least one RD. Among these, 52.6% were not employed, compared with 40.7% of those without RD (P < 0.001). The annual indirect costs following premature exit from work attributable to RD were €650 million (€892 per RD patient). Early retirement amounted to €367 million, whereas early retirement and unemployment totalized €385 million (€504 and €528 per RD patient, respectively). Females are responsible for about 60% of these costs; however, males contribute with higher individual productivity losses. Conclusion: Early exit from work attributable to RD amounts to approximately 0.4% of the national GDP. The public health concern and the economic impact highlight the need to prioritize investments in health and social protection policies targeting patients with rheumatic conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-682
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


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