An empirical investigation into health sector absenteeism

Health Serv Manage Res. 2011 Aug;24(3):142-50. doi: 10.1258/hsmr.2011.011004.


The purpose of this research was to consider why absenteeism in Health and Social Care is so high and to suggest proactive changes in organization activity to address this. The research took a multimethod approach with a quantitative emphasis; there were three parts: (i) quantitative survey questionnaire; (ii) analysis of absenteeism and related secondary data; and (iii) qualitative data from other questions in survey and discussion groups. The quantitative emphasis in the research is appropriate, given the gap identified in the literature. Perceived limitations are that the study considers just one part of the overall system. The research indicates that managers underestimate staff absence levels and almost half believe absenteeism cannot reduce. Professional managers were more negative and over half of nurse managers believed that absence could not reduce. Unless there is a systematic systemic change in organizations, which changes managers' attitudes and understanding of absence with a consequent change in activity across the absence continuum, there is no prospect of a sustained reduction in absence levels. Manager impact and role in absence management are poorly covered in research, so this research helps inform those gaps.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Sector / economics
  • Health Care Sector / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Personnel / economics
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse Administrators / statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel Management
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires