A panel study of sickness presence and sickness absence among secondary school students
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NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (Department of Education and Lifelong Learning)
Online publication date: 2019-09-25
Corresponding author
Vegard Johansen   

NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, Loholt Alle 91, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(6):797-804
Objectives: This article investigates sickness presence among secondary school students in 5 European countries. The research questions asked are: What characterizes students with high sickness presence in secondary schools? Does high sickness presence influence future sickness absence? Material and Methods: A group of 7008 students aged 16–19 years participated in the first study (2016), and 5002 of them also participated in the follow-up study (2017). The participants came from 25 schools in Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Italy and Latvia. The response rate was high. A multivariate binomial logistic regression analysis was used. Results: In 2016 high sickness presence (≥ 5 incidents) was reported by 16% of the students, and in 2017 by 15% of them. In 2016 there were significant differences between countries, and students from Latvia were most likely to report high sickness presence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.45). Students with high absence (aOR = 1.86) and high school motivation (aOR = 1.16, for 1 pt increase on a 5-point scale) were overrepresented among those reporting high sickness presence. Country, absence and motivation were also significant factors for sickness presence in 2017. Furthermore, there was a significant positive association between high sickness presence and high sickness absence the following year. Conclusions: Country, absence, and motivation were important factors for high sickness presence in secondary schools. Engaging in high sickness presence seemed to influence future sickness absence. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(6):797–804
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