How Dangerous is Presenteeism?

Presenteeism refers to the phenomenon whereby employees continue to attend work while unwell. Existing research suggests that presentee workers may suffer consequences to their health and mental strain. In a study published in the International Journal of Stress Management, researchers investigated whether such consequences also have downstream effects in terms of the errors people make at work. They studied the effects of presenteeism among a large sample of pharmacists (N = 1,205), an occupation in which errors made can be safety critical, with implications for patient health. Seventy-six percent of the pharmacists in the sample were classed as presentee, having attended work while unwell enough to have taken time off on at least two occasions over the previous year. Presentee pharmacists made significantly more minor errors and serious mistakes, such as dispensing errors, compared to nonpresentee pharmacists. They also experienced greater feelings of anxiety and depression. Mediation analyses suggested that higher anxiety rates explained why presentee employees made more errors at work. Presenteeism therefore has significant health costs for both workers and their beneficiaries and can be classed as an important work-related stressor.

For the abstract.


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