Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Exploring National Surveillance for Health-Related Workplace Absenteeism: Lessons Learned From the 2009 Influenza A Pandemic

  • Matthew R. Groenewold (a1), Doris L. Konicki (a2), Sara E. Luckhaupt (a1), Ahmed Gomaa (a1) and Lisa M. Koonin (a3)...

During the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a pilot study to test the feasibility of using national surveillance of workplace absenteeism to assess the pandemic's impact on the workplace to plan for preparedness and continuity of operations and to contribute to health awareness during the emergency response.


Population-based and sentinel worksite approaches were used. Monthly measures of the 1-week prevalence of health-related absenteeism among full-time workers were estimated using nationally representative data from the Current Population Survey. Enhanced passive surveillance of absenteeism was conducted using weekly data from a convenience sample of sentinel worksites.


Nationally, the pandemic's impact on workplace absenteeism was small. Estimates of 1-week absenteeism prevalence did not exceed 3.7%. However, peak workplace absenteeism was correlated with the highest occurrence of both influenza-like illness and influenza-positive laboratory tests.


Systems for monitoring workplace absenteeism should be included in pandemic preparedness planning. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1–7)

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Matthew R. Groenewold, PhD, MSPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, 4676 Columbia Pkwy, MS R-17, Cincinnati, OH 45226 (e-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

2. B Patterson , R Caddis , D Durrheim . Use of workplace absenteeism surveillance data for outbreak detection. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011;17:1963-1964.

6. R Savage , A Chu , L Rosella , etal. Perceived usefulness of syndromic surveillance in Ontario during the H1N1 pandemic. J Public Health (Oxf). 2012;34(2):195-202.

7. M Besculides , R Heffernan , F Mostashari , D Weiss . Evaluation of school absenteeism data for early outbreak detection, New York City. BMC Public Health. 2005;5:105.

24. WP Glezen , RB Couch , RA MacLean , etal. Interpandemic influenza in the Houston area, 1974-76. N Engl J Med. 1978;298:587-592.

25. S Li , S Leader . Economic burden and absenteeism from influenza-like illness in healthy households with children (5-17 years) in the US. Respir Med. 2007;101(6):1244-1250.

26. LA Palmer , MD Rousculp , SS Johnston , PJ Mahadevia , KL Nichol . Effect of influenza-like illness and other wintertime respiratory illnesses on worker productivity: the child and household influenza-illness and employee function (CHIEF) study. Vaccine. 2010;28(31):5049-5056.

27. IM McEwan . Absenteeism and sickness absence. Postgrad Med J. 1991;67:1067-1071.

28. M Kivimaki , J Head , JE Ferrie , etal. Sickness absence as a global measure of health: evidence from mortality in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2003;327(7411):364.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 6 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 94 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.