• absenteeism;
  • nurse;
  • nurse manager;
  • organisation;
  • work environment


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.