Job satisfaction and sickness absence: a questionnaire survey

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Abstract

Background

When dissatisfaction with work precedes sickness absence, screening for satisfaction levels might usefully detect workers at risk of sickness absence.

Aim

To investigate whether job satisfaction was associated with subsequent sickness absence days or episodes.

Methods

A sample of workers was randomly drawn from a population of employees who had an episode of absence between January and April 2003. Job satisfaction was measured using a validated single question with a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 7 (very satisfied). Job satisfaction levels were linked to the number of recorded sickness absence days and episodes in 2003, distinguishing between short (1–7 days) episodes and long (>7 days) episodes.

Results

Of 898 questionnaires distributed, 518 (58%) were returned. The mean ± standard deviation job satisfaction level was 5.1 ± 1.4 and negatively related to the number of sickness absence days. Job satisfaction was also negatively related to the number of short episodes and long episodes of absence, but these associations were not significant.

Conclusions

Job satisfaction was significantly related to total sickness absence duration. The association with the number of sickness absence episodes was weak and just below the level of statistical significance. Assessing work satisfaction levels might usefully identify those workers most likely to have the greatest sickness absence duration.

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