April 30, 2009

Going to work linked to sick leave later

Repeatedly going to work when ill significantly boosts the chances of having to take long-term sick leave later, researchers in Denmark found.

The researchers at Herning Hospital in Denmark randomly selected almost 12,000 Danes of working age who had been in continuous employment for at least one year, to answer questions on their attitudes toward 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 stay home.

Their responses were linked with official records detailing periods of sick leave taken, and lasting at least a fortnight, during 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.

The study, published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that workers who came to work while sick at least half a dozen times were 53 percent more likely to end up going off 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.