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Scand J Public Health. 2001 Mar;29(1):71-5.

Physicians who do not take sick leave: hazardous heroes?

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Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.



Physicians seem to have problems in accepting their own illness, and they tend to avoid taking sick leave. This study reports the diseases that physicians bring to work, and discusses selected factors associated with the behaviour of working when ill.


Of a random sample of 1,476 Norwegian physicians, 70% answered a mailed, anonymous questionnaire as a part of The Norwegian Medical Association's health survey.


During one year, 80% of the physicians had worked during an illness for which they would have sick-listed their patients. More than half of the physicians in the study had worked whilst having an infectious disease. Factors independently associated with the behaviour of working when ill include being in the age group 30-39 years, working as a clinician outside hospital, having received medical treatment during the last three years, and having low job satisfaction.


A large number of physicians work whilst having infections and other diseases. This behaviour might be harmful to the physicians themselves as well as to their patients and staff members.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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