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BACKGROUND: Presenteeism is a behavior in which an employee is physically present at work with reduced performance due to illness or other reasons. Hospital doctors and nurses are more inclined to exhibit presenteeism than other professional groups, resulting in diminished staff health, reduced team productivity and potentially higher indirect presenteeism-related medical costs than absenteeism. Robust presenteeism intervention programs and productivity costing studies are available in the manufacturing and business sectors but not the healthcare sector. This systematic review aims to 1) identify instruments measuring presenteeism and its exposures and outcomes; 2) appraise the related workplace theoretical frameworks; and 3) evaluate the association between presenteeism, its exposures and outcomes, and the financial costs of presenteeism as well as interventions designed to alleviate presenteeism amongst hospital doctors and nurses. METHODS: A systematic search was carried out in ten electronic databases from 1998 to 2017 and screened by two reviewers. Quality assessment was carried out using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) tool. Publications meeting predefined assessment criteria were selected for data extraction. RESULTS: A total of 275 unique English publications were identified, 38 were selected for quality assessment, and 24 were retained for data extraction. Seventeen publications reported on presenteeism exposures and outcomes, four on financial costing, one on intervention program and two on economic evaluations. Eight (39%) utilized a theoretical framework, where the Job-Demands Resources (JD-R) framework was the most commonly used model. Most assessed work stressors and resources were positively and negatively associated with presenteeism respectively. Contradictory and limited comparability on findings across studies may be attributed to variability of selected scales for measuring both presenteeism and its exposures/outcomes constructs. CONCLUSION: The heterogeneity of published research and limited quality of measurement tools yielded no conclusive evidence on the association of presenteeism with hypothesized exposures, economic costs, or interventions amongst hospital healthcare workers. This review will aid researchers in developing a standardized multi-dimensional presenteeism exposures and productivity instrument to facilitate future cohort studies in search of potential cost-effective work-place intervention targets to reduce healthcare worker presenteeism and maintain a sustainable workforce.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Health Serv Res

Publication Date





Burnout, Nurses, Physicians, Presenteeism, Productivity, Work demands, Work engagement, Work resources, Absenteeism, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Efficiency, Health Personnel, Hospitals, Humans, Medical Staff, Hospital, Nursing Staff, Hospital, Physicians, Presenteeism, Workplace