Working when ill likely to precipitate long sick leave

April 30th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 30 (IANS) Going to the office when ill is likely to precipitate the chances of taking long sick leave later on, according to a new study.
This increasingly recognised phenomenon is known as “sickness presence,” but relatively little is known about the long term impact of this behaviour.

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

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 percent more likely to end up sick for two weeks, and 74 percent 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 into account known risk factors for long term sick leave, previous bouts of lengthy sickness absence, and prevailing health, said a release of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The research was published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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