BACKGROUND: Sickness presence (SP) is a complex phenomenon that has been shown to predict sickness absence, poor work performance, and suboptimal self-rated health. However, more research is needed to increase the understanding of how SP relates to occupational factors, demographic variables, and self-rated health.
OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to investigate (1) the prevalence of SP among the Police employees in Sweden in 2007 and in 2010; (2) the association between demographics, seniority, occupational group (police officer vs civil servant), and self-reported health on the one hand and SP on the other hand for both years separately.
METHODS: Survey data from Swedish Police employees from 2007 (n = 17,512) and 2010 (n = 18,415) were analyzed using logistic regression to assess odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
RESULTS: The prevalence of SP was stable between the years, but the proportion who stated that they had not been ill at all decreased from 2007 to 2010 (28.0% vs. 23.6%), while the proportion stating always having stayed at home when ill did not differ; 45.0% in 2007 to 45.8% in 2010. The ORs of SP were higher among those with suboptimal self-rated health compared to those with optimal self-rated health (4.38 (95% CI 4.02- 4.78) and 4.31 (3.96- 4.70) in 2007 and 2010, respectively) and among police officers compared with civilians (1.26 (1.17-1.36) and 1.19 (1.10-1.28)), whereas no clear patterns were found for age, gender, and seniority.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalences of SP were about the same in 2007 and 2010 and were slightly lower compared to in previous studies. The strong association between SP and suboptimal self-rated health suggests that high levels of SP may be an early marker of future illness and sickness absence. In future studies of SP it is important to account for having been ill, that is, at risk of SP.
2016. Vol. 54, no 2, 379-387 p.