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