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Exhaustion and Impaired Work Performance in the Workplace

Associations With Presenteeism and Absenteeism

Aboagye, Emmanuel; Björklund, Christina; Gustafsson, Klas; Hagberg, Jan; Aronsson, Gunnar; Marklund, Staffan; Leineweber, Constanze; Bergström, Gunnar

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 29, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001701
Original Article: PDF Only

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between presenteeism and absenteeism during the previous year and the current levels of exhaustion and impaired work performance in a Swedish university setting.

Methods: In a study of 3525 employees, an ordinal logistic regression and general linear model was used to examine the association between presenteeism and absenteeism during the previous year and the current exhaustion and impaired work performance, respectively.

Results: Presenteeism, but not absenteeism, during the previous year independently increased the risk of having moderate or severe exhaustion. Presenteeism, absenteeism, and exhaustion remained positively associated with impaired work performance when health status and other confounders had been adjusted for.

Conclusions: Presenteeism, but not absenteeism, was associated with exhaustion. Both presenteeism and absenteeism were the salient correlates of impaired work performance.

Department of Occupational Health Sciences and Psychology, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden (Aboagye, Björklund, Hagberg, and Bergström); Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Insurance Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (Gustafsson and Marklund); Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (Aronsson); Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (Leineweber); Institute of Environmental Medicine, Unit of Intervention and Implementation Research for Worker Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (Aboagye and Bergström).

Address correspondence to: Emmanuel Aboagye, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nobels väg 13, 17165 Solna, Sweden (

This study was funded by AFA Insurance. The funder has had no role in the work, neither in the scientific work itself nor in the writing of the article.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Clinical significance: Most people with exhaustion are at work even though exhaustion also is associated with sick leave. Exhaustion is associated with reduced work performance, indicating the need for primary preventive measures. Work adjustments may be a way to help the employee and to reduce production loss.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License 4.0 (CCBY-NC), where it is permissible to download, share, remix, transform, and buildup the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be used commercially without permission from the journal.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine