Repeatedly working when ill boosts risk of long term sick leave

Apr 30, 2009

Repeatedly going to work when ill significantly boosts the chances of having to take long term sick leave later on, reveals research published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Going to work when ill is an increasingly recognised phenomenon known as "sickness presence," but relatively little is known about the long term impact of this behaviour.

The researchers randomly selected almost 12,000 Danes of working age, who had been in continuous employment for at least a year, to answer questions on their attitudes to work, preparedness to take time off when ill, and general .

They were asked how many times in the preceding year they had gone to work ill when it would have been reasonable to have stayed at home.

Their responses were married up with official records detailing periods of sick leave taken, and lasting at least a fortnight, over the next 18 months.

Poor general health, a heavy workload, work-family life conflicts, a good level of social support, holding a senior post, and obesity featured most often among those who repeatedly came to work, despite being ill.

Workers who had done this at least half a dozen times were 53% more likely to end up going off sick for two weeks, and 74% more likely to take more than two months of sick leave, compared with those who did not come to work when ill.

These findings held true even after taking account of known risk factors for long term sick leave, previous bouts of lengthy sickness absence, and prevailing health.

Short periods off sick may allow workers to cope better with the stresses of a demanding job, and, overall, the evidence is that employment is good for health, say the authors. But long term sick leave is associated with difficulties finding work, they warn.

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

Explore further: Informal child care significantly impacts rural economies, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flexible workplaces reduce rate of sickness absence

May 29, 2007

People with fun and stimulating jobs, and who are able to adapt their workplace to their needs, have a lower rate of sickness absence and more often go to work despite being ill. This also applies to workplaces with heavy ...

Sick or just sick of work?

Dec 03, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- With the winter weather making it hard to get out of bed in the morning, some employees may contemplate calling in sick to work, even if they feel just a bit under the weather. But a Purdue University ethics ...

Recommended for you

Preterm children's brains can catch up years later

6 hours ago

There's some good news for parents of preterm babies – latest research from the University of Adelaide shows that by the time they become teenagers, the brains of many preterm children can perform almost as well as those ...

Mortality rates increase due to extreme heat and cold

7 hours ago

Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that death rates rise in association with extremely hot weather. The heat wave in Western Europe in the summer of 2003, for example, resulted in about 22,000 extra deaths. A team ...

User comments : 0