Date of Award

12-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Human Ecology

Major Professor

Susan M. Smith

Committee Members

Tyler Kress, Gregory Petty, June Gorski, Paula Carney

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the health conditions, health status, and health beliefs of Tennessee safety and health professionals using self-reported absenteeism and presenteeism. The study collected self-reported absenteeism, which is missed work due to health conditions, and, presenteeism, which is the decrement in performance due to remaining at work while impaired by health problems. The Health Belief Model was used as the theoretical framework for the study.

Two valid and reliable instruments were adapted for this study. "The Wellness Inventory," by Dr. Ron Goetzel and associates at Cornell University, and "The Health Beliefs Questionnaire," by Dr. Jerrold Mirotznik and associates at Brooklyn University, were combined to create the survey questionnaire, "Your Perceptions of How Health Conditions Impact Work Productivity," used for this research. This questionnaire was pilot tested and administered to a convenience sample of 526 safety and health professionals who attended the Tennessee Safety and Health Congress in Nashville, Tennessee, July 24- 27, 2005.

The study found that Tennessee safety and health professionals who self-reported poor or fair health also reported the most absenteeism and presenteeism due to health conditions. The self-report of health status as poor or fair may serve as an accurate indicator of high rates of absenteeism and presenteeism. Employers should consider actions that focus on workers self-reporting poor or fair health status in order to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism.

The study found that allergic rhinitis did not vary by sub-groups such as age, gender, health status, smoking status, and hours worked per week. Actions to address absenteeism and presenteeism due to certain health conditions, like allergic rhinitis, that do not vary by sub-groups should focus on all employees.

The study also found that high stress, migraines, sleep difficulties, and respiratory illness did vary by sub-groups. Actions to address these health conditions may be more efficiently addressed by focusing on sub-groups that showed significant differences in absenteeism, presenteeism, and health beliefs related to these health conditions.

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