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Sickness Presenteeism: Prevalence, Attendance-Pressure Factors, and an Outline of a Model for Research

Aronsson, Gunnar PhD; Gustafsson, Klas MSc

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 9 - p 958-966
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000177219.75677.17
Original Articles

Objective: Sickness presence, that is, going to work despite judging one’s current state of health as such that sick leave should be taken, was investigated in relation to different work and background factors.

Methods: The study group comprised a random sample of 3136 persons who responded to a questionnaire administered in conjunction with Statistics Sweden’s labor market survey. Logistic regressions were used in the analyses.

Results: Fifty-three percent reported the presence of sickness (on more than one occasion during the preceding year). Having a health problem is a strong determinant of sickness presenteeism (odds ratio = 3.32). For any given health status, there are certain other factors (personally and work-related demands) that impact on the risk of sickness presence, such as difficulties in staff replacement, time pressure, insufficient resources, and poor personal financial situation.

Conclusions: The study has identified different types of determinants of sickness presence. Under the assumption that there is a connection between high sickness presence and risk for future ill health, the results may provide assistance in the formulation of preventive measures.

From the Department of Work and Health, National Institute for Working Life, Stockholm, Sweden.

Supported by AFA (AMF Pension, Dnr 2000-0173), Stockholm, Sweden.

Address correspondence to: Gunnar Aronsson, PhD, Department of Work and Health, National Institute for Working Life, S-113 91 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail:

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine