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Distribution of sickness absence in the European Union countries
  1. D Gimeno1,
  2. F G Benavides1,
  3. J Benach1,
  4. B C Amick III2
  1. 1Occupational Health Research Unit, Department of Experimental Sciences and Health, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D Gimeno
 Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas School of Public Health, 1200 Hermann Pressler Street, PO Box 20186, Houston, Texas 77225-0186, USA;


Aims: To determine the sickness absence frequency in European Union (EU) countries.

Methods: Sickness absence was measured by questionnaire using the Third European Survey on Working Conditions. Employees were considered to have sickness absence if they reported to be absent at least one day in the past 12 months because of an accident at work, work related problems, or by other health problems.

Results: Sickness absence percentages were lower in Southern European countries compared with Central and Northern European countries, and, in general, slightly higher in men than in women.

Conclusion: This is the first description of sickness absence in each of the 15 EU countries. Examination of the sickness absence patterning between EU countries could indicate countries where important lessons to reduce sickness absence are to be learned and diffused across the EU.

  • Europe
  • sick leave
  • occupational health
  • international comparisons

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  • Source of funding: This work was partly funded by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin (Project 0156/Contract 00-3030–85)

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