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Effects on Presenteeism and Absenteeism From a 1-Year Workplace Randomized Controlled Trial Among Health Care Workers

Christensen, Jeanette Reffstrup PhD; Overgaard, Kristian PhD; Hansen, Klaus BSc; Søgaard, Karen PhD; Holtermann, Andreas PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 10 - p 1186–1190
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829b2816
Original Articles

Objectives: It is unknown whether workplace interventions successfully improving health outcomes can also provide concurrent improvements in presenteeism and absenteeism.

Methods: A 1-year cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted on 144 employees at a care unit in Denmark. The intervention consisted of calorie-limited diet, physical exercise, and cognitive behavioral training during working hours 1 hour per week. The reference group was offered presentations about healthy lifestyle. Absenteeism and presenteeism (productivity, workability, and sickness absence) were recorded at baseline and after 3 and 12 months of intervention.

Results: In intention-to-treat analysis, a significant effect of the intervention was found for productivity after 3 months. Nevertheless, after 12 months no significant effects on absenteeism or presenteeism were found.

Conclusions: This study suggests that a worksite intervention, despite successfully reducing overweight, does not induce lasting improvements on absenteeism or presenteeism.

From the Department of Public Health (Drs Christensen and Overgaard), Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Mr Hansen and Dr Holtermann), Copenhagen, Denmark; and Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics (Dr Søgaard), University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen, PhD, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Dalgas Avenue 4, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark (

Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen with the Department of Public Health has received research funding for the study from the Ministry of Culture Committee on Sports Research, Denmark, and the Danish Working Environment Research Foundation.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine