Workers' drinking patterns: the impact on absenteeism in the Australian work-place
Article first published online: 14 APR 2008
© 2008 The Authors
Volume 103, Issue 5, pages 738–748, May 2008
How to Cite
Roche, A. M., Pidd, K., Berry, J. G. and Harrison, J. E. (2008), Workers' drinking patterns: the impact on absenteeism in the Australian work-place. Addiction, 103: 738–748. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02154.x
- Issue published online: 14 APR 2008
- Article first published online: 14 APR 2008
- Submitted 30 March 2007; initial review completed 4 July 2007; final version accepted 10 January 2008
- drinking patterns;
Aims To examine the relationship between Australian workers' patterns of alcohol consumption and absenteeism.
Design A secondary analysis of the 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey data.
Setting Australia 2001.
Participants A total of 13 582 workers aged ≥14 years.
Measurements Alcohol consumption levels associated with National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for short- and long-term harm were identified and compared with self-reported measures of absenteeism due to alcohol use and due to any illness/injury.
Findings More than 40% of the Australian work-force consumed alcohol at risky or high-risk levels at least occasionally. High-risk drinkers were up to 22 times more likely to be absent from work due to their alcohol use compared to low-risk drinkers. Short-term high-risk drinkers were also significantly more likely to be absent from work due to any illness or injury than employed low-risk drinkers. Young employees and males were more likely to report alcohol-related absenteeism compared to older workers and females.
Conclusions The relationship between workers' alcohol consumption patterns and absenteeism is more substantial than previously recognized or documented. Alcohol-related absenteeism is not restricted to small numbers of chronic heavy drinkers, but also involves the much larger number of risky non-dependent drinkers who drink less frequently at risky levels. To improve workers' health and wellbeing and enhance productivity and economic prosperity, appropriate education, prevention and policy strategies are warranted and necessitate revision of previously narrow approaches undertaken with work-place programmes.