Osteoporosis in the Workplace Report 2002

Osteoporosis in the Workplace: The social, economic and human costs of osteoporosis on employees, employers and governments

Osteoporosis in the Workplace: The social, economic and human costs of osteoporosis on employees, employers and governmentsThis publication, launched for World Osteoporosis Day 2002, estimates that the annual direct cost of treating osteoporosis fractures of people in the workplace in the USA, Canada and Europe alone is approximately $48 billion. This amount is similar in scope to the estimated $53.7 billion spent annually on global foreign development aid.

Professor Jean-Yves Reginster, director of the WHO Collaborating Center in Liege, Belgium and IOF general secretary, cautions that the calculations of direct costs are preliminary. "Much more research is needed," he said. "Also, we should remember that osteoporosis also results in huge indirect costs that are rarely calculated and which are probably at least 20% of the direct costs. For example, a worker with osteoporosis might lose her or his job, incur medical expenses that are never calculated by economists, and suffer other economic losses. And of course the human suffering, described in the report's case histories, is immense but economically incalculable."

Compiled and written by Florent Richy, University of Liege, Belgium, the report notes:

  • Just one in two vertebral fractures is diagnosed by a physician.
  • Less than 10-20% of all osteoporosis patients receive timely treatment.
  • Vertebral fractures are more serious as a workplace problem than are hip fractures because they are more likely to afflict younger people, even around the age of 50 or earlier.
  • The worldwide cost burden of osteoporosis (for all ages) is forecast to increase to $131.5 billion by 2050.
  • Specific recommendations are given for the individual, the physician, other healthcare professionals, researchers, and the public health sector.

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