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The consequences of sickness presenteeism on health and wellbeing over time: A systematic review

Skagen, Kristian and Collins, Alison M (2016) The consequences of sickness presenteeism on health and wellbeing over time: A systematic review. Social Science & Medicine, 161. pp. 169-177. ISSN 0277-9536


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Rationale The association between sickness presenteeism, defined as going to work despite illness, and different health outcomes is increasingly being recognized as a significant and relevant area of research. However, the long term effects on future employee health are less well understood, and to date there has been no review of the empirical evidence. The aim of this systematic review was to present a summary of the sickness presenteeism evidence so far, in relation to health and wellbeing over time. Methods Eight databases were searched for longitudinal studies that investigated the consequences of workplace sickness presenteeism, had a baseline and at least one follow-up point, and included at least one specific measure of sickness presenteeism. Of the 453 papers identified, 12 studies met the eligibility criteria and were included in the review. Findings We adopted a thematic approach to the analysis because of the heterogeneous nature of the sickness presenteeism research. The majority of studies found that sickness presenteeism at baseline is a risk factor for future sickness absence and decreased self-rated health. However, our findings highlight that a consensus has not yet been reached in terms of physical and mental health. This is because the longitudinal studies included in this review adopt a wide variety of approaches including the definition of sickness presenteeism, recall periods, measures used and different statistical approaches which is problematic if this research area is to advance. Future research directions are discussed.

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