, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 11-20

Fatigue and job stress as predictors for sickness absence during common infections

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The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of health and work-related factors as predictors of subsequent sickness absence when experiencing common infections (common cold, flu-like illness, and gastroenteritis). Self-administered questionnaire data were used (baseline n = 12,140). To perform the analysis, employees reporting common infections in the final questionnaire were selected. Employees reporting sickness absence due to common infections were compared with a group who stayed at work during an infection. Multivariate survival analysis revealed no significant effects of job demands, decision latitude, or job strain on absence in workers experiencing common infections. Low levels of commitment (risk [RR] 1.22; confidence interval [CI] 1.03—1.44) and low job satisfaction (RR 1.36; CI 1.13—1.164) increased the chance of being absent during a common cold. Also, having a long-standing disease (RR 1.22; CI 1.05—1.41) and fatigue (RR 1.20; CI 1.05—1.37) increased the chance of being absent during a common infection. Having an executive function decreased the chance of being absent. We conclude that absence during a common cold is partly influenced by motivational factors in work, in contrast to more severe common infections which are more health related. Insight in factors related to absenteeism are important as a start for preventive measures to reduce sickness absence.

This study is part of the Maastricht Cohort Study on fatigue at work. The Maastricht Cohort Study participates in the Netherlands concerted research on “fatigue at work” granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO Grant no. 580—02.254).