Sickness Presenteeism in Prison Officers: Risk Factors and Implications for Wellbeing and Productivity

Gail Kinman*, Andrew J. Clements

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sickness presenteeism involves employees continuing to work while unwell. As presenteeism is influenced by contextual and individual difference factors, it is important to assess its prevalence and implications for wellbeing and productivity in different occupational groups. This study examines these issues in a sample of prison officers working in UK institutions. Data were obtained from a survey of 1956 prison officers. Measures assessed the prevalence of and reasons for presenteeism and the perceived impact on job performance, along with mental health and perceptions of workplace safety climate. More than nine respondents out of ten (92%) reported working while unwell at least sometimes, with 43% reporting that they always did so. Presenteeism frequency was significantly related to mental health symptoms, impaired job performance and a poorer workplace safety climate. The reasons provided for presenteeism explained 31% of the variance in self-reported mental health, 34% in job performance and 17% in workplace safety climate, but the pattern of predictors varied according to the outcome. The findings can be used to inform interventions at the organisational and individual levels to encourage a ‘healthier’ approach to sickness absence, with likely benefits for staff wellbeing, job performance and workplace safety climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3389
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
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Attribution (CC BY) license (https://


  • presenteeism
  • prison officers
  • mental health
  • safety climate


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