Scand J Work Environ Health 2019;45(4):333-345    pdf full text | Published online: 02 Apr 2019, Issue date: 01 Jul 2019

Fatigue and risk of sickness absence in the working population: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies

by Sagherian K, Geiger-Brown J, Rogers VE, Ludeman E

Objectives Fatigue, a common complaint in workers, has been related to sickness absence (SA). The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the prospective association between fatigue and SA in the working population.

Methods An electronic literature search was conducted in five databases: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Psyc­INFO and Cochrane CENTRAL. Longitudinal studies were selected that focused on fatigue and future SA in workers. Random-effects meta-analyses were conducted and pooled estimates [95% confidence intervals (CI)] were obtained for the association between fatigue and risk of long-term SA in total and by sex. Heterogeneity was assessed by I2 statistics.

Results Of the 16 included studies in the review, 14 provided supportive evidence for an association between fatigue and SA. The meta-analysis of 9 studies (provided 15 estimates) that were mostly of high quality showed that baseline fatigue increased the risk of long-term SA by 35% (95%CI 1.23–1.47) in workers. Heterogeneity was low-moderate (I2=40%). The pooled estimates for an increased risk for long-term SA were 35% (95% CI 1.18–1.54) in fatigued men and 22% (95% CI 0.93–1.60) in fatigued women however this relationship was not statistically significant.

Conclusion There is conclusive evidence for the prospective association between worker fatigue and long-term SA. Whereas most studies in the review measured chronic fatigue and long-term SA, there was insufficient data for the meta-analysis to draw conclusions on fatigue type. Future research is needed in this area as well as greater exploration of fatigue and long-term SA in women.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2007;33(3):233-239
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