Objectives A major measure of treatment success for drug users undergoing rehabilitation is the ability to enter the workforce and generate income. This study examines the absenteeism and productivity among people who inject drugs (PWID) enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in Northern Vietnam.
Setting We conducted a cross-sectional study in two clinics in Tuyen Quang province.
Participants A total of 241 patients enrolled in MMT.
Primary and secondary outcome measures Patients’ work productivity was measured using the WPAI-GH instrument (Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire: General Health V2.0). We also collected additional characteristics about participants’ employment history, such as proficient jobs, whether they actively found a new job and be accepted by employers.
Results Most of the participants (>90%) were employed at the time of the study. Rates of absenteeism (missed work), presenteeism (impairment while working) and overall loss of productivity were 15.8%, 5.6% and 11.2%, respectively, as measured by the WPAI-GH questionnaire. The most proficient job was ‘freelancer’ (17.5%), followed by ‘blue-collar worker’ (10.6%) and ‘farmer’ (10.2%). Only 26.8% of patients reported that they actively sought jobs in the past. About half of them had been refused by employers because of their drug use history and/or HIV status. We found no statistically significant difference between patients enrolled in MMT for <1 year and those who had been enrolled >1 year. Factors associated with higher work productivity included not endorsing problems in mobility, self-care or pain; being HIV-negative and having greater MMT treatment adherence.
Conclusion Our study highlights the high employment rate and work productivity among PWID in MMT programmes in remote areas of Northern Vietnam. The results can help to improve the quality and structure of MMT programmes across Vietnam and in other countries.
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