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Estimation of the impacts of substance use on workplace productivity: a hybrid human capital and prevalence-based approach applied to Canada

  • Justin T. SorgeEmail author
  • Matthew Young
  • Bridget Maloney-Hall
  • Adam Sherk
  • Pam Kent
  • Jinhui Zhao
  • Tim Stockwell
  • Katerina Perlova
  • Scott Macdonald
  • Brian Ferguson
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objective

Policy makers require evidence-based estimates of the economic costs of substance use-attributable lost productivity to set strategies aimed at reducing substance use-related harms. Building on a study by Rehm et al. (2006), we provide estimates of workplace costs using updated methods and data sources.

Methods

We estimated substance use-attributable productivity losses due to premature mortality, long-term disability, and presenteeism/absenteeism in Canada between 2007 and 2014. Lost productivity was estimated using a hybrid prevalence and incidence approach. Substance use prevalence data were drawn from three national self-report surveys. Premature mortality data were from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database, and long-term disability and workplace interference data were from the Canadian Community Health Survey.

Results

In 2014, the total cost of lost productivity due to substance use was $15.7 billion, or approximately $440 per Canadian, an increase of 8% from 2007. Substances responsible for the greatest economic costs were alcohol (38% of per capita costs), tobacco (37%), opioids (12%), other central nervous system (CNS) depressants (4%), other CNS stimulants (3%), cannabis (2%), cocaine (2%), and finally other psychoactive substances (2%).

Conclusion

In 2014, alcohol and tobacco represent three quarters of substance use-related lost productivity costs in Canada, followed by opioids. These costs provide a valuable baseline that can be used to assess the impact of future substance use policy, practice, and other interventions, especially important given Canada’s opioid crisis and recent cannabis legalization.

Keywords

Lost productivity Substance use Cost of illness Harms Burden of disease 

Résumé

Objectif

Les décideurs ont besoin d’estimations factuelles des coûts économiques de la perte de productivité attribuable à l’usage de substances pour pouvoir mettre en place des stratégies de réduction des méfaits. Partant d’une étude faite par Rehm et coll. (2006), nous avons estimé les coûts en milieu de travail à l’aide de méthodes et de sources de données à jour.

Méthodes

Nous avons estimé la perte de productivité (mortalité prématurée, invalidité de longue durée et présentéisme/absentéisme) attribuable à l’usage de substances au Canada, de 2007 à 2014. Les estimations des coûts liés à la perte de productivité ont été faites au moyen d’une méthode hybride de prévalence et d’incidence. Les données sur la prévalence de l’usage de substances ont été tirées de trois enquêtes nationales d’autodéclaration. Les données sur la mortalité prématurée ont été obtenues de la Base de données canadienne sur les décès (statistiques de l’état civil), et les données sur l’invalidité de longue durée et l’interférence professionnelle, elles, de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes.

Résultats

En 2014, les coûts de perte de productivité attribuable à l’usage de substances totalisaient 15,7 milliards de dollars (environ 440 $ par Canadien), soit une hausse de 8 % par rapport à 2007. Les substances responsables de ces coûts étaient l’alcool (38 % des coûts par personne), le tabac (37 %), les opioïdes (12 %), les autres dépresseurs du système nerveux central (SNC) (4 %), les autres stimulants du SNC (3 %), le cannabis (2 %), la cocaïne (2 %) et les autres substances psychoactives (2 %).

Conclusion

En 2014, l’alcool et le tabac représentaient les trois quarts des coûts de perte de productivité liée à l’usage de substances au Canada, suivis des opioïdes. Ces coûts fournissent un point de référence utile pour évaluer les retombées des politiques, pratiques et autres interventions qui seront mises en place, compte tenu de la crise des opioïdes qui sévit et de la récente légalisation du cannabis au Canada.

Mots-clés

Perte de productivité Usage de substances Coût de la maladie Méfaits Charge de morbidité 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Alan Diener, PhD, Public Health Agency of Canada, for technical support and review of methods; and Amanda Farrell-Low, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, for providing valuable feedback on drafts of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Research Ethics Board of the University of Victoria (17-068).

Supplementary material

41997_2019_271_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (92 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 91 kb)
41997_2019_271_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (235 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 235 kb)

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin T. Sorge
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew Young
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bridget Maloney-Hall
    • 2
  • Adam Sherk
    • 1
  • Pam Kent
    • 2
  • Jinhui Zhao
    • 1
  • Tim Stockwell
    • 1
    • 4
  • Katerina Perlova
    • 1
  • Scott Macdonald
    • 1
    • 5
  • Brian Ferguson
    • 6
  1. 1.Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Technology Enterprise Facility, Room 273University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Centre on Substance Use and AddictionOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.School of Health and Information SciencesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  6. 6.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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