Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, evaluated whether going to work despite illness -- often referred to as presenteeism -- affects future sickness absenteeism. The study examined 3,750 employees and concluded that workers with more days going to work sick also had more days absent because of illness. In the first year of the study, 19 percent of public sector workers and 13 percent of private sector workers had more than five sickness presenteeism days. For these workers, researchers said the risk of having more than 30 days of sickness absenteeism the following year was 40 percent to 50 percent higher, after adjustment for other factors.
Researchers said the findings, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, raise the possibility that measures attempting to decrease work absences could inadvertently have the opposite effect, if they encourage workers to come to work when sick.
"This underscores the importance of sickness presenteeism in the evaluations of such interventions and considering the effects from a long-term perspective," the study concluded.
July 9, 2009
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