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Absenteeism and presenteeism in healthcare workers due to respiratory illness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2020

Stefan P. Kuster*
Affiliation:
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Jürg Böni
Affiliation:
Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Roger D. Kouyos
Affiliation:
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Michael Huber
Affiliation:
Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Stefan Schmutz
Affiliation:
Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Cyril Shah
Affiliation:
Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari
Affiliation:
Department of Geriatrics and Aging Research, University Hospital Zurich and University of Zurich, Switzerland
Oliver Distler
Affiliation:
Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Edouard Battegay
Affiliation:
Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Pietro Giovanoli
Affiliation:
Department of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Matthias Guckenberger
Affiliation:
Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Malcolm Kohler
Affiliation:
Pulmonary Division, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Rouven Müller
Affiliation:
Hematology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Heidi Petry
Affiliation:
University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Frank Ruschitzka
Affiliation:
University Heart Center, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Allison McGeer
Affiliation:
Department of Microbiology, Sinai Health System, and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Brenda L. Coleman
Affiliation:
Department of Microbiology, Sinai Health System, and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Hugo Sax
Affiliation:
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Rainer Weber
Affiliation:
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Alexandra Trkola
Affiliation:
Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
*
Author for correspondence: Stefan P. Kuster, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100 / HAL14 D6, 8091Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail: stefan.kuster@uzh.ch

Abstract

Objective:

To assess influenza symptoms, adherence to mask use recommendations, absenteesm and presenteeism in acute care healthcare workers (HCWs) during influenza epidemics.

Methods:

The TransFLUas influenza transmission study in acute healthcare prospectively followed HCWs prospectively over 2 consecutive influenza seasons. Symptom diaries asking for respiratory symptoms and adherence with mask use recommendations were recorded on a daily basis, and study participants provided midturbinate nasal swabs for influenza testing.

Results:

In total, 152 HCWs (65.8% nurses and 13.2% physicians) were included: 89.1% of study participants reported at least 1 influenza symptom during their study season and 77.8% suffered from respiratory symptoms. Also, 28.3% of HCW missed at least 1 working day during the study period: 82.6% of these days were missed because of symptoms of influenza illness. Of all participating HCWs, 67.9% worked with symptoms of influenza infection on 8.8% of study days. On 0.3% of study days, symptomatic HCWs were shedding influenza virus while at work. Among HCWs with respiratory symptoms, 74.1% adhered to the policy to wear a mask at work on 59.1% of days with respiratory symptoms.

Conclusions:

Respiratory disease is frequent among HCWs and imposes a significant economic burden on hospitals due to the number of working days lost. Presenteesm with respiratory illness, including influenza, is also frequent and poses a risk for patients and staff.

Trial registration:

NCT02478905 (clinicaltrials.gov)

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© 2020 by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All rights reserved.

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