Online Program

Relationship between employee health risk factors and workers' compensation: Evidence from a cohort of small and medium sized enterprises

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Natalie Schwatka, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health & Center for Health, Work and Environment, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
Adam J. Atherly, PhD, Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
Hai Fang, PhD, China Center for Health Development Studies
Ron Goetzel, PhD, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, and Truven Health Analytics
Kimberly Jinnett, PhD, Integrated Benefits Institute, San Francisco, CA
Claire Brockbank, MS, Segue Consulting
Lee S. Newman, MD, MA, Colorado School of Public Health- Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO

The purpose of this study is to determine if employee health risk factors (HRFs) are associated with 1) the occurrence of non-zero cost workers’ compensation (WC) claims and 2) increasing medical and total claim costs in a cohort of small and medium sized enterprises.


Health risk assessments (HRA) were completed by 16,926 employees from 314 companies in the State of Colorado between May 2010 and December 2014. Predictors included HRFs related to lifestyle (e.g., smoking), psycho/social conditions (e.g., stress), and health conditions (e.g., diabetes). Logistic regression will be used to examine whether employee HRFs are associated with a binary variable reflecting whether or not the employee had at least one WC claim within one year of the HRA . Generalized linear modeling will be employed to examine the association between the HRFs and the medical and total costs of the WC claim.  Models will be adjusted for employee (e.g., age) and employer (e.g., industry) demographic factors.


Analysis is ongoing.  Preliminary analysis suggests that a number of employee HRFs are significantly associated with WC claims and costs. Our results are generally consistent with prior studies showing an association between employee HRFs and work-related injury and illness in large corporations. 


Personal health risks are associated with work-related injury and illness. This study builds upon previous research by assessing the relationship between personal HRFs and work-related injury/illness among thousands of employees from multiple companies and diverse industries.  Effective health risk management interventions are needed to address employee HRFs and reduce WC.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the relationship between employee health risk factors and workers’ compensation claim occurrence and cost.

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Health Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been principal or co-investigator of multiple federally funded grants focusing on occupational health and safety. I have specifically been involved in multiple workers' compensation research studies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.