Sickness presenteeism in Norway and Sweden

  • Vegard Johansen Eastern Norway Research Institute, Østlandsforskning
Keywords: Sickness presenteeism, Survey, Norway, Sweden, Logistic regression


Introduction: Sickness presenteeism (SP) refers to the practice of going to work despite illness. This article describes the distribution of SP in Norway and Sweden. It also discusses relations between SP and various work characteristics and personal factors in the two countries.

Methods: More than 2500 Norwegian and Swedish workers between 20 and 60 years of age answered a postal questionnaire. The Norwegian and Swedish samples are weighed and representative with regard to both variables of regional background and demography, but the response rate was low. The distribution of SP is measured by frequency (episodes in the previous year) and by length (total days of SP in the previous year). This study employed binary and multinomial logistic regression to detect which factors influence the frequency of SP.

Results: Fifty-five per cent of the respondents in Norway and Sweden practised SP in the previous year. The frequency of SP episodes is similar in the two countries. Further, respondents with low/medium income, physical work, and managerial responsibilities report SP more often in both countries. Non-western immigrants, the less educated, and those employed by others are overrepresented with SP in Norway. Neither gender nor age had any particular influence.

Discussion: In accordance with previous studies, this study among Norwegian and Swedish workers suggests that some SP during a working year may be more common than no SP. Our analyses of determinants of SP present some previously undocumented differences. Divisions between sedentary versus physical work and management versus non-management were important for SP in Norway and Sweden. Moreover, non-western immigrants are overrepresented with SP in Norway, but this pattern does not prevail in Sweden. Some possible causes for non-western immigrants to report more SP are suggested in the article, but we need more research to follow up on the missing correlation between ethnic background and SP in Sweden.


How to Cite
Johansen, V. (2013). Sickness presenteeism in Norway and Sweden. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 3.