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J Occup Health. 2013;55(3):132-41. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

The relation between presenteeism and different types of future sickness absence.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Ghent University.



The aim of this study was to examine the relation between sickness presenteeism and different types of future sickness absence in 2,983 Belgian middle-aged workers.


Data were collected from 1,372 male and 1,611 female workers. Presenteeism was assessed by a single question, evaluating the frequency of occasions of going at work, despite illness, during the preceding year. Prospective, registered sickness absence data were collected during 12 months of follow-up. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationship between presenteeism and short/long spells of absenteeism and high sickness absence frequency.


High rates (>5 times) of presenteeism at baseline were significantly and independently associated with both long spells of sickness absence (at least 15 consecutive sick leave days) (men, OR=2.73, 95% CI=1.24-6.03; women, OR=2.40, 95% CI=1.31-4.40) and short spells of sickness absence (sick leave between 1 and 3 days) (men, OR=2.38, 95% CI=1.25-4.51; women, OR=1.90, 95% CI=1.17-3.11) in both genders during one year follow-up. Moderate rates (2-5 times) of presenteeism were significantly associated with long spells of sickness absence only in the male group (OR=1.90, 95%CI= 1.21-2.97). With regard to high sickness frequency (at least 3 sick leave episodes), a significant and positive association with high rates of presenteeism was demonstrated only in the female workers (OR=2.38, 95% CI=1.40-4.04).


These results suggest that presenteeism was related to different types of future sickness absence.

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