Not sick enough to worry? Influenza-like symptoms and work-related behavior among healthcare workers and other professionals: Results of a global survey




Tartari, Ermira
Saris, Katja
Kenters, Nikki
Marimuthu, Kalisvar
Widmer, Andreas
Collignon, Peter
Cheng, Vincent C. C.
Wong, Shuk C.
Gottlieb, Thomas
Tambyah, Paul Ananth

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Public Library of Science


Background Healthcare workers (HCWs) and non-HCWs may contribute to the transmission of influenza-like illness (ILI) to colleagues and susceptible patients by working while sick (presenteeism). The present study aimed to explore the views and behavior of HCWs and non-HCWs towards the phenomenon of working while experiencing ILI. Methods The study was a cross-sectional online survey conducted between October 2018 and January 2019 to explore sickness presenteeism and the behaviour of HCWs and non-HCWs when experiencing ILI. The survey questionnaire was distributed to the members and international networks of the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC) Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Working Group, as well as via social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter and IPC Blog. Results In total, 533 respondents from 49 countries participated (Europe 69.2%, Asia-Pacific 19.1%, the Americas 10.9%, and Africa 0.8%) representing 249 HCWs (46.7%) and 284 non-HCWs (53.2%). Overall, 312 (58.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 56.2–64.6) would continue to work when sick with ILI, with no variation between the two categories. Sixty-seven (26.9%) HCWs and forty-six (16.2%) non-HCWs would work with fever alone (p<0 .01) Most HCWs (89.2–99.2%) and non-HCWs (80%-96.5%) would work with “minor” ILI symptoms, such as sore throat, sinus cold, fatigue, sneezing, runny nose, mild cough and reduced appetite. Conclusion A future strategy to successfully prevent the transmission of ILI in healthcare settings should address sick-leave policy management, in addition to encouraging the uptake of influenza vaccine.





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