(TS)

Only 50 percent of employers in the West say low back pain, upper extremity repetitive stress problems and other musculoskeletal problems are top drivers of claims at short-term disability (STD) programs and related programs.

Analysts at Mercer have published that figure in a summary of results from a survey of about 300 U.S. employers with 100 or more employers.

The Mercer analysts looked at the effects of various conditions on STD claims, and use of salary continuation and extended illness bank programs, in a long report on a wide range of disability and absence management issues.

Musculoskeletal problems accounted for a big share of STD-type claims at 83 percent of the participating employers in the South, 86 percent of the participants in the Midwest and 93 percent of the participants in the Northeast.

Many other conditions also showed dramatic regional variations.

Digestive problems, for example, were a major STD driver at 13 percent of the participating employers in the West but only 6 percent in the South.

Depression and anxiety were major drivers at 42 percent of the participating employers in the Northeast and just 25 percent in the South.

Cancer and heart problems combined accounted for major disability problems at 87 percent of the employers in the South and only 68 percent of the employers in the West.

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