Factors influencing nurse absenteeism in a general hospital in Durban, South Africa


  • P. Mudaly Hons Nurs Ed, MCUR, BCUR,

    Academic Development Officer, Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa
    • Correspondence

      P. Mudaly

      School of Nursing

      University of KwaZulu-Natal

      Howard College Campus

      Durban 4001

      South Africa

      E-mail: mudalyp@ukzn.ac.za

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  • Z. Z. Nkosi PhD, MCUR, BCUR

    Associate Professor
    1. Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Theo van Wyk Building, Pretoria, South Africa
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To establish reasons for absenteeism amongst professional nurses, enrolled nurses and enrolled nurse auxiliaries in a general hospital in Durban, in order to recommend strategies that could decrease absenteeism.


Nurses endure increased workload, resulting in burnout and absenteeism in workplace environments that already suffer staff shortages.


This study was a quantitative, non-experimental survey. The study population consisted of 60 nurses, including professional and enrolled nurses and enrolled nurse auxiliaries. The survey consisted of closed-ended questions to options of ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ and an open-ended section.


Family matters, lack of motivation to attend work, illness, finance, favouritism, unfriendly nurse managers, long work hours, increased workload, unsatisfactory work conditions, lack of equipment, unfair promotions and selection of nurses for training, staff shortages, lack of a reward system and incoherent decision-making caused nurse absenteeism.


Personal, professional and organisational factors may cause nurse absenteeism, crippling the health sector further against the backdrop of human and mechanical resource shortage.

Implications for nursing management

Nurse managers have an important role in reducing absenteeism by addressing the employees’ concerns, which can lead to productivity, increased staff morale, decreased medical hazards and satisfied patients.