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J Appl Psychol. 2010 Mar;95(2):334-48. doi: 10.1037/a0018018.

Alcohol consumption and workplace absenteeism: the moderating effect of social support.

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Smithers Institute, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

Erratum in

  • J Appl Psychol. 2010 May;95(3):581.


Although it is commonly assumed that alcohol consumption has a significant impact on employee absenteeism, the nature of the alcohol-absence relationship remains poorly understood. Proposing that alcohol impairment likely serves as a key mechanism linking drinking and work absence, we posit that this relationship is likely governed less by the amount of alcohol consumed and more by the way it is consumed. Using a prospective study design and a random sample of urban transit workers, we found that the frequency of heavy episodic drinking over the previous month is positively associated with the number of days of absence recorded in the subsequent 12-month period, whereas modal consumption (a metric capturing the typical amount of alcohol consumed in a given period of time) is not. In addition, consistent with both volitional treatments of absenteeism and social exchange theory, perceived coworker support was found to attenuate, and supervisory support to amplify, the link between the frequency of heavy episodic drinking and absenteeism.

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