The Reliability, Validity, and Accuracy of Self-Reported Absenteeism From Work: A Meta-Analysis

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Because of a variety of access limitations, self-reported absenteeism from work is often employed in research concerning health, organizational behavior, and economics, and it is ubiquitous in large scale population surveys in these domains. Several well established cognitive and social-motivational biases suggest that self-reports of absence will exhibit convergent validity with records-based measures but that people will tend to underreport the behavior. We used meta-analysis to summarize the reliability, validity, and accuracy of absence self-reports. The results suggested that self-reports of absenteeism offer adequate test–retest reliability and that they exhibit reasonably good rank order convergence with organizational records. However, people have a decided tendency to underreport their absenteeism, although such underreporting has decreased over time. Also, self-reports were more accurate when sickness absence rather than absence for any reason was probed. It is concluded that self-reported absenteeism might serve as a valid measure in some correlational research designs. However, when accurate knowledge of absolute absenteeism levels is essential, the tendency to underreport could result in flawed policy decisions.

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