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Working with influenza-like illness: Presenteeism among US health care personnel during the 2014-2015 influenza season

      Highlights

      • Over 40% of surveyed US health care personnel worked with self-reported ILI.
      • By occupation, pharmacists and physicians were most likely to work with ILI.
      • By work setting, hospital-based personnel were the most likely to work with ILI.
      • Interventions should target misconceptions on working while ill and paid sick leave.

      Background

      Health care personnel (HCP) working while experiencing influenza-like illness (ILI) contribute to influenza transmission in health care settings. Studies focused on certain HCP occupations or work settings have demonstrated that some HCP often continue to work while ill.

      Methods

      Using a national nonprobability Internet panel survey of 1,914 HCP during the 2014-2015 influenza season, we calculated the frequency of working with self-reported ILI (ie, fever and cough or sore throat) and examined reasons for working with ILI by occupation and work setting.

      Results

      Overall, 414 (21.6%) HCP reported ILI, and 183 (41.4%) reported working with ILI (median, 3 days; range, 0-30 days). Pharmacists (67.2%) and physicians (63.2%) had the highest frequency of working with ILI. By work setting, hospital-based HCP had the highest frequency of working with ILI (49.3%). The most common reasons for working while ill included still being able to perform job duties and not feeling bad enough to miss work. Among HCP at long-term care facilities, the most common reason was inability to afford lost pay.

      Conclusions

      More than 40% of HCP with ILI work while ill. To reduce HCP-associated influenza transmission, potential interventions could target HCP misconceptions about working while ill and paid sick leave policies.

      Key Words

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