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A new report by Cigna, which analyzed 20 years of the company’s short term disability claims, shows that absences related to obesity, treatment for skin cancer, and herniated disc surgery increased significantly from 1993 to 2012, while a reduction in absences related to depression coupled with an increase in prescribed anti-depressants may signal a hidden problem.

“Employers who focus on productivity as an outcome will succeed in the future. Though medical advances have helped improve the quality of life for many people, lifestyle and behavioral factors remain key drivers of absence,” said Dr. Robert Anfield, the chief medical officer for Cigna’s disability insurance unit. “Employers must address these triggers with earlier intervention, vocational rehabilitation services, and wellness programs.”

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