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Sickness Presenteeism Among Health Care Workers and the Effect of BMI, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength

Christensen, Jeanette Reffstrup PhD; Kongstad, Malte Bue MSc; Sjøgaard, Gisela DrMedSci; Søgaard, Karen PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 12 - p e146–e152
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000576

Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to assess the relationship between sickness presenteeism and body mass index (BMI), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC).

Methods: Female health care workers (n = 139) were analyzed cross-sectional as well as longitudinal after 3 and 12-month follow-up. Sickness presenteeism was assessed as a summed score using validated questions from three questionnaires: Health and Work Performance Questionnaire, Work Ability Index, and Quantity and Quality Method. CRF was assessed by a maximal cycling test and MVC from four muscle groups.

Results: Significant relationships were found between sickness presenteeism and BMI as well as MVC both cross-sectional and as changes over 3 months. Participants with BMI more than 30 kg/m2 had significantly higher sickness presenteeism than those with BMI less than 25 kg/m2.

Conclusions: This study suggests that actions that decrease BMI and increase MVC decrease the amount of sickness presenteeism.

Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen, PhD, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark 5230 (

Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen has received research funding to the study from The Ministry of Culture Committee on Sports Research, Denmark. The study is part of the FINALE program financially supported by The Danish Working Environment Research Foundation.

The authors declare to have no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine