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Int J Nurs Stud. 2013 Mar;50(3):366-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.012. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Low job satisfaction does not identify nurses at risk of future sickness absence: results from a Norwegian cohort study.

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Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, PO Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands.



Sickness absence is high in healthcare and contributes to nursing staff shortages reducing the efficiency and quality of patient care. Assessing the risk of sickness absence in working nurses opens opportunities for preventive strategies. Job satisfaction has attracted much attention in healthcare research and has been associated with sickness absence among nurses.


To investigate if job satisfaction scores are useful to identify working nurses at risk of future sickness absence.


Prospective cohort study with a baseline period from November 2008 to March 2009 and 1-year follow-up.


Hospitals, nursing homes, and ambulant care settings in Norway.


2059 Norwegian nurses, of whom 1582 (77%) could be followed-up.


Nurses received a questionnaire at baseline and after 1-year follow-up. The questionnaire contained the Job Satisfaction Index (JSI), a 5-item scale measuring overall job satisfaction, and asked for sickness absence in the last 12 months. Baseline JSI scores were included in a logistic regression model with self-rated sickness absence at 1-year follow-up as outcome variable. Predictions of sickness absence were calibrated by the Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test. The ability of JSI scores to discriminate between nurses with and without sickness absence was examined by receiver operating characteristic analysis and expressed as area under the curve (AUC).


Low job satisfaction was associated with higher odds of sickness absence (odds ratio [OR]=1.05; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.09) and high (≥ 31 days) sickness absence (OR=1.10; 95% CI 1.06-1.14). Calibration was acceptable, but job satisfaction neither discriminated between nurses with and without sickness absence (AUC=0.54; 95% CI 0.51-0.58) nor between nurses with and without high (≥ 31 days) sickness absence (AUC=0.58; 95% CI 0.54-0.63).


The results of this study indicated that job satisfaction was associated with sickness absence, though job satisfaction scores as measured with the JSI did not identify working nurses at risk of sickness absence.

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