CIGNA Program Cuts Disability Absences by 15 Percent Among High-Risk Individuals

  • Program followed 118,000 individuals from 26 employers; high-risk individuals received supportive services to prevent workplace absences
  • Resulted in 15 percent fewer short-term disability claims among high-risk individuals
  • Duration of short-term disability absences reduced by five days on average
  • Initial results presented at the Disability Management Employer Coalition International Conference

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Workplace absences due to short-term disability were reduced 15 percent among high-risk individuals who received supportive services through a CIGNA (NYSE:CI) pilot program, according to preliminary results presented earlier this month at the Disability Management Employer Coalition’s (DMEC) International Conference.

The innovative pilot program, which began in 2009, involved 118,000 individuals from 26 client employers. Using its proprietary predictive model to analyze medical, disability, pharmacy and other data, CIGNA identified individuals with a 10 percent or greater risk of missing work due to a disability in the coming year.

Of those identified as high-risk, 80 percent were randomly assigned to receive outreach and integrated support, including personal health coaching from a nurse advocate, as well as connections to other health support programs, such as lifestyle management, employee assistance, disease management and vocational stay-at-work programs.

Individuals who received the additional outreach and support through the Absence Prediction and Prevention Program had 15 percent fewer incidents of short-term disability-related absences than individuals in the control group, who did not receive the additional outreach and interventions. Study group participants who did experience a disability were absent five fewer days on average than the control group.

“By identifying high-risk customers and helping them with the right mix of outreach, coaching, interventions and incentives, the study showed the measureable impact integrated health and disability service providers and employers can have on employee health,” said CIGNA's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Kang, who presented the pilot program’s preliminary findings at the DMEC conference.

With 10 percent of disability cases accounting for more than half the total medical and disability costs1, employers are seeking smarter, more effective ways to help their employees stay healthy and on the job.

About the program

Using integrated disability, medical, pharmacy and other data, CIGNA launched the Absence Prediction and Prevention Program pilot in October 2009 with the goal of identifying customers at risk of short-term disability early and then using personalized outreach, coaching and referrals from CIGNA health advocate nurses to help pilot participants reduce absence and improve health.

CIGNA health advocate nurses were a critical component of the program because of their personal interaction with customers. The nurses provided incentive-based coaching and support customized to each person’s health challenges. With this support, customers were empowered to make active, positive changes to improve their health and remain productive.

“Getting to the ‘front end’ of integration through prevention is a key aspect of this type of applied research,” said Marcia Carruthers, chief executive of Disability Management Employer Coalition. “Incorporating a strategy for delivering targeted assistance to employees is a sign that employer absence management programs have evolved to a new level. Affecting decreased incidence and duration by using a predictive approach that incorporates both medical and behavioral is the future of total disability and absence management.”

“Preventing, or even reducing the risk of illness and disability, offers a proactive, tangible benefit for both employers and their employees,” said Dr. Kang. “By encouraging a culture of health and wellness, employers can help ensure they protect their most important asset – their employees. The Absence Prediction and Prevention Program further deepens CIGNA's ability to help employer clients achieve sustainable outcomes and cost savings.”


The Absence Prediction and Prevention Program pilot is a prospective randomized control study that included 26 clients and 118,000 individuals with CIGNA medical and disability coverage. The program administrators randomly assigned high-risk individuals identified through the predictive modeling analysis to study and control groups, and confirmed the comparison groups were equivalent at baseline on key measures, including age, gender, hospitalization and office visits, previous incidence of disability and probability risk of future disability.


CIGNA (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation's operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. CIGNA maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world. All products and services are provided exclusively by such operating subsidiaries and not by CIGNA Corporation. Such operating subsidiaries include Life Insurance Company of North America, CIGNA Life Insurance Company of New York, and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. To learn more about CIGNA, visit To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to Also, follow us on Twitter at @cigna, visit CIGNA’s YouTube channel at and listen to CIGNA's podcast series with healthy tips and information at or by searching "CIGNA" in iTunes.

1 Integrated Benefits Institute, IBI News September 8, 2008


Jim Angstadt, 215-761-8748
[email protected]
Mark Slitt, 860-226-2092
[email protected]

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