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December/January 2013/2014 (vol. 10/4)

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Research Plus

Cost of occupational hand eczema

The annual costs to society of poorly managed occupational hand eczema is 8,800 per person, with most costs attributable to lost productivity, according to this German study of 151 workers admitted to an eczema clinic. Current patient status, sickness absence and estimated resource use (physician visits, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures) in the 12 months before entering the clinic were obtained from participants’ medical histories and from structured interviews. Ninety-three of the patients had moderate to severe eczema. Most had visited a dermatologist, 63% had taken at least a day’s sickness absence in the previous year, and 34% were off sick at enrolment. Mean absence among those who had taken sick leave was 76 days; one in nine took at least six months off. Sickness absence accounted for 70% of total costs, followed by inpatient rehabilitation (13%) and outpatient services (8%). The estimates exclude costs of early retirement, work disability and retraining. The authors acknowledge that their findings relate to workers who had been referred for special treatment, and costs may differ in other situations.

Cost of illness from occupational hand eczema in Germany. Contact Dermatitis 2013; online first: doi: 10.1111/cod.12038.

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Occupational Health at Work December/January 2013/2014 (vol. 10/4) pp45