Presenteeism, Absenteeism, and Lost Work Productivity among Depressive Patients from Five Cities of Colombia



To estimate productivity losses due to absenteeism and presenteeism and their determinants in patients with depression from five Colombian cities.


We used data from a multicenter, mixed-methods study of adult patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder or double depression (major depressive disorder plus dysthymia) during 2010. The World Health Organization’s Health and Work Performance Questionnaire was used to assess absenteeism and presenteeism. We explored the determinants of productivity losses using a two-part model. We also used a costing model to calculate the corresponding monetary losses.


We analyzed data from 107 patients employed in the last 4 weeks. Absenteeism was reported by 70% of patients; presenteeism was reported by all but one. Half of the patients reported a level of performance at work at least 50% below usual. Average number of hours per month lost to absenteeism and presenteeism was 43 and 51, respectively. The probability of any absenteeism was 17 percentage points lower in patients rating their mental health favorably compared with those rating it poorly (standard error [SE] 0.09; P 0.01). The 2015 monetary value of productivity losses amounted to US $840 million.


This study in a middle-income country confirms the high economic burden of depression. Health policies and workplace interventions ensuring adequate diagnosis and treatment of depression are recommended.


José Miguel Uribe Diana M. Pinto Andres I. Vecino-Ortiz Carlos Gómez-Restrepo Martín Rondón

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