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Is Sickness Presenteeism a Risk Factor for Depression? A Danish 2-Year Follow-Up Study

Conway, Paul Maurice PhD; Hogh, Annie PhD; Rugulies, Reiner PhD; Hansen, Åse Marie PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 6 - p 595–603
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000177
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the prospective association between sickness presenteeism (SP), that is, working while ill, and the onset of depression.

Methods: We carried out a two-wave (2006 to 2008) questionnaire-based study among 1271 employees from 60 Danish workplaces. Sickness presenteeism was assessed by asking participants to report the number of days that they went to work despite illness in the preceding year.

Results: Multivariate logistic regression revealed that, after controlling for several health-related variables and other relevant confounders, reporting 8 or more days of SP was associated with an increased risk of depression among initially nondepressed participants (odds ratio, 2.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 5.64). No significant sex-related differences were observed in this relationship.

Conclusion: Adding to previous evidence on the health effects of SP, this study suggests that working while ill may also be a significant risk factor for the development of depression.

From the Department of Psychology (Dr Conway and Profs Hogh and Rugulies) and Department of Public Health (Profs Hansen and Rugulies), University of Copenhagen; and National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Profs Rugulies and Hansen), Copenhagen, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Paul Maurice Conway, PhD, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Østre Farimagsgade 2A, 1353, Copenhagen, Denmark (

The authors have not received any funding in relation to this specific manuscript.

Authors Conway, Hogh, Rugulies, and Hansen have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine