Aim A longitudinal field experiment was conducted to test the effects of absenteeism feedback and goal-setting interventions on nurses’ (1) fairness perceptions, (2) discomfort feelings and (3) absenteeism. Nurses’ obstacles to reducing absenteeism were also explored.
Background Absenteeism is a significant issue in health care and there is a need to avoid interventions that are seen to be negative, punitive or lead to sick nurses coming to work.
Method Sixty-nine nurses working in a hospital in Eastern Canada received either: (1) absenteeism feedback with individual goal-setting, (2) absenteeism feedback with group goal-setting, or (3) no intervention, and were asked questions about how they could reduce their absenteeism.
Results There was a significant decrease in the total number of days absent but no decrease in absent episodes, and a significant effect on fairness perceptions and discomfort feelings for the nurses in the absenteeism feedback conditions. Six categories of obstacles to reducing absenteeism were identified.
Conclusions The interventions made nurses feel their absence rate was less fair and to experience greater feelings of discomfort.
Implications for nursing management The study’s interventions may lead to a reduction in absence without the negative outcomes of a harsh absenteeism policy.