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Keywords:

  • absenteeism;
  • job strain;
  • effort–reward imbalance;
  • short-time sickness absence;
  • risk assessment;
  • effort;
  • reward;
  • over-commitment;
  • social support;
  • demand;
  • control

Abstract

Background

Sickness absence due to illness is considered an indicator of work-related stress. Police work is a very stressful job. Sickness absence and sick leave are frequent among policemen.

Methods

We tested whether stress variables were predictors of absenteeism in a police unit specifically assigned to the maintenance of law and order.

Results

Control, Reward, and Support were negatively related to frequency of absence and short-term absence. Demand and Effort were positively related to total lost days. Absence recorded in the previous year was the best predictor of absenteeism. We also found a positive, albeit weak association between absence in the previous year and subsequent work-related stress.

Conclusions

Stress variables are associated with sickness absence, although the association is weak. Both short-term and prolonged sickness absence should be regarded as a warning sign for subsequent sickness absence and distress. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:765–775, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.