Led by Dr. Jeff Borenstein of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, researchers assessed PMS symptoms in 374 working women. Over a 2-month period, the women recorded any PMS symptoms in diaries, along with missed work time and estimates of lost productivity related to PMS.

Insurance claims data showed a modest increase in direct health costs for women with PMS: an average $59 higher per year than for women without PMS, after adjustment for other factors.

Where PMS had its greatest impact was on indirect costs for missed work time and lost productivity. Women with PMS had an average 14 percent reduction in expected hours of work per week plus a 15 percent reduction in productivity when at work, compared to women without PMS.

Total indirect costs related to PMS were estimated at $4,333 higher per year, compared to women without PMS. In a hypothetical health plan including 10,000 women aged 18 to 45, PMS would increase indirect costs by nearly $13 million per year, in addition to a $175,000 increase in direct health costs.

The assessment of indirect costs includes not only missed work days due to illness but also lost productivity. This problem, sometimes called "presenteeism," is defined as health problems that are not severe enough to cause absence from work but still impact employees' performance while at work.

The new results show that the indirect costs of PMS are many times higher than the direct costs. Employers seeking to control their indirect health-related costs should be aware of the potential economic impact of PMS among their female employees, as well as the financial benefits of offering effective treatment for this condition, Dr. Borenstein and coauthors suggest: "Corporate benefits plans that support the use of clinically effective PMS therapies are likely to be a cost-effective investment."

MEDICA.de; Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine