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Sickness absence in doctors
  1. I J Murphy1
  1. 1Department of Occupational Medicine, Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust, West Berkshire Occupational Health, 21 Craven Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 5LE, UK;

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    Kivimaki et al1 undertook research to identify some determinants of sickness absence in Finnish hospital physicians between 1997 and 1998. This was a questionnaire survey sent to 816 physicians and a control group of 542 senior nurses employed in one of 11 hospitals in Finland. Social circumstances, work characteristics, and various measures of health were assessed by questionnaire and employers' registers were used to assess recorded sickness absence.

    There are some limitations in the study design and subsequent conclusions that are not acknowledged in the text.

    The response rate from the physicians was a disappointing 55%. Nearly half of the physicians approached did not participate in the study. This could bias the results considerably. The authors state that the response rate obtained in this study corresponds to that obtained in previous research. Seven references are cited as evidence. The response rates of doctors from six of the seven quoted papers are higher than 55% and are as follows: 82%2; 79% and 76%3; 63%4; 78%5; 58%6; and 87%–94%.7 The …

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