2009-09-30

Muscle and Joint Pain Costs European Economies up to EUR240 Billion a Year


Brussels (ots/PRNewswire) -

- New Study Reveals Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDS) Responsiblefor More Sick Days Than any Other Health Condition

A new study today finds that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)account for nearly half (49%) of all absences from work and 60% ofpermanent work incapacity in the European Union. These and othersocio-economic consequences of suffering from poor health due tomuscle and joint pain represent an estimated cost to society inEurope of up to EUR240 billion.[1]

The groundbreaking study, conducted across 25 European countriesin Europe and beyond by UK-based research organisation The WorkFoundation, finds 100 million Europeans suffer from chronicmusculoskeletal pain - over 40 million of whom are workers - with upto 40% having to give up work due to their condition.

"MSDs clearly have a serious, negative impact on the EUworkforce, as they were responsible for millions of lost working days- 9.5 million were lost in one year in the UK alone," says StephenBevan, managing director of The Work Foundation. "As Europe nowstruggles to emerge from the global recession, one considerationpolicy-makers should address is how labour productivity in businessesis being undermined by these often very painful conditions."

Early interventions make a difference

This pan-European research suggests that early detection of, andintervention in, MSDs ultimately reduces the burden on governments'health and disability budgets, and measurably improves the lives ofEuropean citizens - and employees' performance. The Fit for Workreport also recommends a new and more inclusive method to evaluatethe cost-effectiveness of treating illness in general, and MSDs inparticular: one that considers more than simply the up-front costs ofmedical expenditure and incorporates wider socio-economicconsiderations - such as work productivity - into the financial andmedical evaluations for treating MSDs and other chronic conditions.Such an approach could provide a more holistic and perhaps morerealistic assessment of the overall costs and benefits of diagnosis,prevention and treatment, the report argues.

Tatiana Quadrello, senior researcher at The Work Foundation,adds, "The Fit for Work study clearly suggests that earlyintervention is a key factor in allowing people with MSDs to remainin work. This has provided us with the beginnings of a potentialcalculation of an 'early intervention premium' which could encourageGovernments and healthcare professionals to consider this whendiscussing intervention policies."

The Fit for Work research has shown that people withmusculoskeletal disorders who are able to work can experience health,social, psychological and economic benefits. According to Maarten deWit, former Vice President of EULAR-PARE*, "Workers with MSDs who aresupported at work are more productive and represent a return oninvestment for businesses. In addition, working and homemakingincrease people's sense of worth, making them happier and moreproductive and engaged members of society."

A call for coordinated and focused action

Based on this pan-European study, the Fit for Work campaign isbeing launched today at the European Parliament in Brussels by MEPsEdite Estrela (SD, Portugal) and Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, Bulgaria),with a keynote address from Belgian Minister for Employment and EqualOpportunities, Joelle Milquet, and Isabel de la Mata, PrincipalAdviser with special interest in Public Health at the EuropeanCommission Directorate General for Health and Consumers. ProfessorPaul Emery, serving president of the European League againstRheumatism (EULAR), will close the launch with a call for action frompolicymakers, healthcare professionals, patients and employers. Thelaunch of the project in Brussels is in partnership with leadingEuropean research organisation RAND Europe, and has been endorsed bythe Swedish Presidency of the European Union.

"Only coordinated action between governments, business, thehealthcare professional community and patients will result ininterventions that allow those living with MSDs to stay working,contribute to society and maintain quality of life," says EditeEstrela MEP. The co-host of the launch event, Antonyia Parvanova MEPadded, "Once governments have agreed that MSDs are a priority, theyshould set out national welfare and public health plans addressingthese conditions, establishing frameworks for the delivery of careand services for people with MSDs."

Notes to editors

About Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders is an umbrella term covering over 200conditions that affect the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments,peripheral nerves and supporting blood vessels, causing pain andfunctional impairment to sufferers (Punnett et al, 2004).

About The Work Foundation

The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on workand its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life andthe effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakersand opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.

About RAND Europe's health research

RAND Europe is an independent, not-for-profit researchinstitution with offices in Cambridge UK and Brussels. Its mission isto help improve policy and decision making through research andanalysis.

About the Fit for Work project

The Work Foundation's Fit for Work project is supported by aresearch grant from Abbott, the global healthcare company, andlogistical support from Weber Shandwick. Fit for Work reports areproduced independently by The Work Foundation, with full editorialcontrol resting with The Work Foundation alone. For furtherinformation please contact Amandine de Coster at Weber Shandwick:+32-2-894-9017 or adecoster@webershandwick.com or Nasreen Memon atThe Work Foundation on +44-207-976-3507 ornmemon@theworkfoundation.com.

For information and the opportunity to comment on makingEurope Fit for Work, go to http://www.fitforworkeurope.eu.

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[1] The Fit for Work research found that MSDs cost the EU from0.5%-2% of GDP annually. EU27 GDP in 2007 was EUR12.3 trillion. Aloss of 2 % is approximately EUR240bn. Figures calculated from Europein Figures - Eurostat yearbook 2009, published 18 September 2009.

* EULAR-PARE: the European League Against Rheumatism-People withArthritis and Rheumatism in Europe

For more information, visit http://www.fitforworkeurope.eu orcontact Jenny Taylor on +44-20-7976-3519 orjtaylor@theworkfoundation.com.

ots Originaltext: The Work FoundationIm Internet recherchierbar: http://www.presseportal.de

Contact:For more information, visit http://www.fitforworkeurope.eu or contactJenny Taylor on +44-20-7976-3519 or jtaylor@theworkfoundation.com.

The Work Foundation

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