News | March 2019

dQ&A® Diabetes Research Highlights Lost Productivity and Impact on Daily Activities of Living with Diabetes

Research shows that employers have a strong incentive to improve healthcare, wellness, and prevention programs.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, March 28, 2019 — dQ&A Market Research Inc., the leader in diabetes patient research, released selected results from its quarterly American study of people with diabetes. The study showed that people with type 1 diabetes lost 23% of their work productivity due to their disease. People with type 2 diabetes lost 11% (for those not taking insulin) and 19% (for those taking insulin).

“We’ve known for a long time that people with diabetes are likely to experience more sick days,” said Richard Wood, dQ&A’s CEO. “Our latest research quantifies not only time away from the job, but also the significant lost productivity during work time that’s caused by diabetes. These data highlight how life can be very difficult for people with diabetes, but also demonstrate that employers have strong incentives to provide good quality healthcare, wellness, and diabetes prevention programs for their employees.”

In 2017, the CDC estimated that the full indirect cost of diabetes in the USA was in the region of $90B annually, comprising:

  • Increased absenteeism – $3 billion.
  • Increased presenteeism (defined as reduced productivity while at work) – $27 billion.
  • Reduced productivity for those not employed – $2 billion.
  • Inability to work as a result of disease-related disability – $38 billion.
  • Lost productive capacity due to early mortality – $20 billion.

dQ&A wanted to understand the impact of these factors on its large community of people with diabetes. This community has been built over a decade, is increasingly representative of the US diabetes population, and has been carefully stewarded to ensure it consists of truthful and committed people.

dQ&A utilized the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment: Specific Health Problem (WPAI: SHP) questionnaire – a well-validated instrument which asks respondents about the last seven days of work, to generate four metrics (expressed as percentages):

  • Absenteeism (work time missed due to diabetes)
  • Presenteeism (lost work time because of impairment while working due to diabetes)
  • Overall work productivity loss (overall work impairment due to diabetes, incorporating absenteeism and presenteeism)
  • Activity impairment (how much of regular daily non-work activities were prevented due to diabetes)

Some key results of the study include:

People with type 1 diabetes People with type 2 diabetes (not taking insulin) People with type 2 diabetes taking insulin People with A1c between 6.1%-7.0% People with A1c greater than 9.0%
Overall Work Productivity Loss (% of work time) 23% 11% 19% 16% 26%
Activity Impairment (% impact on non-work time) 30% 16% 28% 22% 33%


Sample sizes were in the range of n=2,000 for productivity loss, and n=5,000 for activity impairment. dQ&A diabetes communities in North America and Europe total about 18,000 people with diabetes.

Although statistically appropriate comparators for the general population don’t exist, dQ&A estimates (based on the existing literature) that the average overall work productivity loss from all health causes is less than 10% in the general population and activity impairment is roughly 14% (taking into account the average health of that population).

It’s clear that intensifying therapy and worsening glucose control lead to more workplace productivity loss and activity impairment. This is also true for longer durations of diabetes, as might be expected. dQ&A also has studied the WPAI data by treatment modality, such as SGLT-2 inhibitor therapy, GLP-1 receptor agonist therapy, and use of pumps and CGM.

Please contact dQ&A’s CEO Richard Wood at for more information or for inquiries into dQ&A’s industry-leading diabetes research services.

dQ&A would like to express its sincere gratitude to all of the community members who participated in these research studies.


About dQ&A

dQ&A is a social enterprise that’s committed to making life better for people with diabetes. We harness patient voices to help develop better products, services and policies, answer key business questions, and improve health outcomes for people with diabetes. For ten years, we have focused exclusively on understanding what life is like for those with diabetes. We are trusted by patients because of our independence and commitment to them. And we are endorsed by industry leaders because we deliver high quality answers quickly and efficiently, through the use of our proprietary community. Our team has decades of experience in quantitative and qualitative research and a deep knowledge of diabetes. Many of our lives have been touched by diabetes, so we have a personal stake in our work.

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