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Employment Status Matters: A Statewide Survey of Quality-of-Life, Prevention Behaviors, and Absenteeism and Presenteeism

Merchant, James A. MD, DrPH; Kelly, Kevin M. PhD; Burmeister, Leon F. MS, PhD; Lozier, Matt J. PhD; Amendola, Alison MBA, MHA; Lind, David P. MBA, CEBS; KcKeen, Arlinda BA; Slater, Tom BA; Hall, Jennifer L. EdD, MCHES; Rohlman, Diane S. PhD; Buikema, Brenda S. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 7 - p 686–698
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000149
Original Article

Objective: To estimate quality-of-life (QoL), primary care, health insurance, prevention behaviors, absenteeism, and presenteeism in a statewide sample of the unemployed, self-employed, and organizationally employed.

Methods: A statewide survey of 1602 Iowans included items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention QoL and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey prevention behavior questionnaires used to assess employee well-being; their indicator results are related to World Health Organization's Health and Work Performance Questionnaire-derived absenteeism and presenteeism scores.

Results: The unemployed exhibited poorer QoL and prevention behaviors; the self-employed exhibited many better QoL scores due largely to better prevention behaviors than those employed by organizations. Higher QoL measures and more prevention behaviors are associated with lower absenteeism and lower presenteeism.

Conclusions: Employment status is related to measures of well-being, which are also associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.

From the Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Address correspondence to: James A. Merchant, MD, DrPH, Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 (

Source of funding: NIOSH grant 5U19OH008868.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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