Is absence related to work stress? A repeated cross-sectional study on a special police force

Am J Ind Med. 2013 Jul;56(7):765-75. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22155. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Background: Sickness absence due to illness is considered an indicator of work-related stress. Police work is a very stressful job. Sickness absence and sick leave are frequent among policemen.

Methods: We tested whether stress variables were predictors of absenteeism in a police unit specifically assigned to the maintenance of law and order.

Results: Control, Reward, and Support were negatively related to frequency of absence and short-term absence. Demand and Effort were positively related to total lost days. Absence recorded in the previous year was the best predictor of absenteeism. We also found a positive, albeit weak association between absence in the previous year and subsequent work-related stress.

Conclusions: Stress variables are associated with sickness absence, although the association is weak. Both short-term and prolonged sickness absence should be regarded as a warning sign for subsequent sickness absence and distress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Health*
  • Police / classification*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace