Research Papers:

Refusal to take a sick leave as an estimate of the phenomenon of presenteeism in Poland

Grzegorz Juszczyk, Aleksandra Czerw _, Anna Augustynowicz, Tomasz Banaś, Marcin Mikos, Urszula Religioni and Andrzej Deptała

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:28176-28184. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25592

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Grzegorz Juszczyk1, Aleksandra Czerw2,3, Anna Augustynowicz2, Tomasz Banaś4, Marcin Mikos5, Urszula Religioni1 and Andrzej Deptała6

1Department of Public Health, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

2Department of Health Economics and Medical Law, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

3Department of Economic and System Analyses, National Institute of Public Health–NIH, Warsaw, Poland

4Department of Gynecology and Oncology, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow, Poland

5Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Modrzewski Cracow Academy, Cracow, Poland

6Department of Cancer Prevention, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

Correspondence to:

Aleksandra Czerw, email: [email protected]

Keywords: absenteeism; presenteeism; prevalence of presenteeism; health problems

Received: March 01, 2018     Accepted: May 24, 2018     Published: June 15, 2018


Introduction: Absenteeism and presenteeism are two main phenomena related to health problems and professional activity. Presenteeism is the involvement in a professional activity despite being ill. The purpose of the current study is to estimate the prevalence of presenteeism in Poland on the basis of medical records and to explore associations between presenteeism and patients’ age, gender and type of medical problem. Another purpose is to provide estimates of the length of sick leave if it was accepted.

Results: The amount of patients who refused to take a sick leave was 27.4%. There was a minor relationship between the refusals and gender (slightly higher in men) as well as strong effects of the age of patients (periods of sick leave were longer in older patients) and ICD-10 diagnosis (largely in acute diseases of the upper respiratory tract). The estimated number of days spent on sick leave in the group of patients that refused to take it, assuming that they made a different decision and complied to it, was in the range between 5 and 10 days.

Discussion: The prevalence of presenteeism in Poland is relatively high. Since the largest proportion of refusals took place in the case of potentially contagious diseases, the negative impact on productivity may be even higher. Even though the relationship between presenteeism and wages remains unclear, the remarkable increase of wages in Poland within the last 20 years may explain the propensity to work despite being ill. Further research needs to consider the simultaneous use of medical records and self-measured productivity loss.

Materials and Methods: The current study is based on data from medical records concerning 550,360 patients aged 19–64. Associations between refusals to take a sick leave and patients’ age, gender, as well as diagnosis in terms of ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems), were tested. Linear regression analysis on the data acquired from the patients who accepted to take a sick leave were further used to estimate the possible length of sick leave in the group of patients that refused to take it.

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