The relationship between perceived stress and self-reported illness- related absenteeism

Bert H. Jacobson, Steven G. Aldana, Ron Z. Goetzel, K. D. Vardell, Troy B. Adams, Rick J. Pietras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate the association between perceived stress and illness-related work absenteeism. Design. A standardized health profile questionnaire developed by Johnson and Johnson Advanced Behavioral Technologies, Inc., was used to collect demographic and personal health data between June 1988 and January 1993. Chi-square, odds ratio, and stepwise regression tests were used to analyze perceived stress and self-reported absenteeism data. Setting. Worksite health promotion programs in 250 U.S. companies. Subjects. Subjects consisted of 79,070 employees. Measures. Stress data, grouped as low, moderate, and high, were correlated with absenteeism data grouped by annual days missed (None, 1 to 2, 3 to 4, and 5+). Results. Significant relationships were found (p ≤ .05) between high stress and absentee ism for both genders. Female workers reported higher stress levels and absenteeism than men. Those with high stress were 2.22 more, likely to be absent 5+ days per year than those with low stress. Work, finances, and family were the highest stress sources. Greatest absenteeism predictors were health, legal, social, and financial stress. Conclusions. These data primarily represented self-selected white workers and may not apply to all employees. However, if high stress relates to absenteeism, these data may provide valuable information for program design in stress management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Absenteeism
  • Employee
  • Health Behavior
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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