The economic burden of disease by industry: Differences in quality-adjusted life years and associated costs

Davina V. Tolbert, Kathryn E. Mccollister, William G. Leblanc, David J. Lee, Lora E. Fleming, Peter Muennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: This study compares differences in quality-adjusted life expectancy across the eight original National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) industry sectors. Methods: Data from the 1997 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) were used to estimate quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) for all workers and by NORA sector. Differences in QALYs were calculated and translated into economic values using estimates of the societal willingness-to-pay per QALY. Results: Mean QALYs across workers was 29.17 years. Among NORA sectors, wholesale, and retail trade workers had the highest average QALYs remaining (35.88), while mining workers had the lowest QALYs (31.4). The economic value of this difference ranges from $604,843 to $1,155,287 per worker depending on the societal willingness-to-pay per QALY. Conclusion: The value of life lost within some industries is very high relative to others. Additional investments in occupational safety, benefits, and health promotion initiatives may reduce these losses, but experimental research is needed to assess the effectiveness of such programs. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:757-763, 2014.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-763
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014



  • Burden of disease
  • NORA
  • QALYs
  • Quality-adjusted life years
  • Years of healthy life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this