Background: Instruments that measure the impact of illness on work do not usually provide a measure that can be directly translated into lost hours or costs. We describe the validation of the Work and Health Interview (WHI), a questionnaire that provides a measure of lost productive time (LPT) from work absence and reduced performance at work. Method: A sample (n = 67) of inbound phone call agents was recruited for the study. Validity of the WHI was assessed over a 2-week period in reference to workplace data (i.e. absence time, time away from call station and electronic continuous performance) and repeated electronic diary data (n = 48) obtained approximately eight times a day to estimate time not working (i.e. a component of reduced performance). Results: The mean (median) missed work time estimate for any reason was 11 (8.0) and 12.9 (8.0) hours in a 2-week preiod from the WHI and workplace data, respectively, with a Pearson's (Spearman's) correlation of 0.84 (0.76). The diary-based mean (median) estimate of time not working while at work was 3.9 (2.8) hours compared with the WHI estimate of 5.7 (3.2) hours with a Pearson's (Spearman's) correlation of 0.19 (0.33). The 2-week estimate of total productive time from the diary was 67.2 hours compared with 67.8 hours from the WHI, with a Pearson's (Spearman's) correlation of 0.50 (0.46). Conclusion: At a population level, the WHI provides an accurate estimate of missed time from work and total productive time when compared with workplace and diary estimates. At an individual level, the WHI measure of total missed time, but not reduced performance time, is moderately accurate.
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