Background Musculoskeletal disorders are common in the aging society but their burden is not widely recognized. Sickness absence related to musculoskeletal conditions is a public health problem with social and economic consequences.
Objectives To demonstrate the prevalence of sickness absence related to musculoskeletal disorders and to provide the data for the measurement their burden in society.
Methods Medically certified causes of sickness absence in Poland according to ICD-10 codes were analyzed. The data used in the study have been collected and recorded in 2012 for administrative purposes by main health and social insurer in Poland - The Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). The ranking of groups of diseases causing highest work absenteeism was performed. The numbers of sickness medical certificates, work days lost related to musculoskeletal disorders (M00-M99) were analyzed and compared to other causes of sickness absence. The ranking of rheumatic diseases causing the highest sickness absence was performed.
Results The Social Insurance Institution registered 13 225 713 people as insured in 2012. All medically confirmed sickness absence certificates were reported and analyzed. Musculoskeletal conditions were the cause of 2 053 200 absence certificates (12,4% of all), the second cause (after the group of respiratory system diseases). Insured Poles lost 28 140 300 working days due to musculoskeletal disorders - 13,6% of total working days lost. For comparison the cardiovascular diseases caused 5,5% absence certificates and 6,1% days lost. In the ranking of ten conditions causing the highest work absenteeism there were four diseases related to back pain. In the group of musculoskeletal disorders (M00-M99) the back pain problems and osteoarthritis were the most prevalent causes of work absenteeism. Rheumatoid arthritis (M05, M06) was the reason of 35 249 sickness absence certificates and 560 330 working days lost. Possible modifiable factors influencing work absenteeism related to musculoskeletal disorders are discussed. Improvement of standards of care (early diagnostics, regular follow-up, access to modern treatment) may influence work absenteeism related to inflammatory diseases. Osteoarthritis and back pain being important social problem need the interdisciplinary approach, cooperation of scientists, health professionals, economists, patients organizations, media and policy makers. Social and economic consequences of sickness absence caused by common musculoskeletal conditions are presented and discussed.
Conclusions Musculoskeletal disorders are prevalent and important cause of sickness absence. Their impact on society should be widely recognized. The health and social policy should be directed on factors, which can prevent work absenteeism and disability.
Disclosure of Interest None declared