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Attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism in health and care sectors in Norway and Denmark: a qualitative study



Attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism in health and care sectors in Norway and Denmark: a qualitative study



Bmc Public Health 14: 880



In the health and care sector, sickness absence and sickness presenteeism are frequent phenomena and constitute a field in need of exploration. Attitudes towards sickness absence involve also attitudes towards sickness presenteeism, i.e. going to work while sick, confirmed by previous studies. Sickness behavior, reflecting attitudes on work absence, could differ between countries and influence absence rates. But little is known about attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism in the health and care sectors in Norway and Denmark. The aim of the present paper is therefore to explore attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism among nursing home employees in both countries. Eight focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide, the main attention of which was attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism. FGDs were conducted in two nursing homes in Norway and two in Denmark, with different geographic locations: one in a rural area and one in an urban area in each country. FGDs were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using framework analysis to identify major themes and explanatory patterns. Four major significant themes were identified from the FGDs: a) sickness absence and sickness presenteeism, b) acceptable causes of sickness absence, c) job identity, and d) organization of work and physical aspects of the workplace. Our analyses showed that social commitment and loyalty to residents and colleagues was important for sickness absence and sickness presenteeism, as were perceived acceptable and non-acceptable reasons for sickness absence. Organization of work and physical aspects of the workplace were also found to have an influence on attitudes towards sickness absence. The general interpretation of the findings was that attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism among nursing home employees were embedded in situational patterns of moral relationships and were connected to a specific job identity. These patterns were constituted by the perception of colleagues, the social commitment to residents, and they influence on what was deemed as acceptable and non-acceptable reasons for sickness absence. In other words, attitudes towards sickness absence and sickness presenteeism were socially and morally determined at personal levels by an overall concept of work, independent of country.

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Accession: 051711048

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PMID: 25160059

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-880


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