Absences attributed to sickness were investigated in 1410 deck and engine-room crew members during a period of two years and five months. The mean frequency of absences was 0-23 per man year, with a mean duration per absence of 41 days. The absence frequency varied with both rank and place of work. Altogether 23% of deck officers serving throughout the study and 43% of engine-room ratings had one or more absences. Spells of absence in young officers were five times more frequent when they were on leave than at sea. In the younger officers more than half of all spells that were initiated while on leave occurred at the end of the leave period. The contrasting environments of ship and shore allow the relative importance of effects on absence frequency of the work and home environment and of medical and social factors to be considered separately.
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