Measuring presenteeism: Which questionnaire to use in physical activity research?

Helen Elizabeth Brown, Nicola Burton, Nicholas David Gilson, Wendy Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: An emerging area of interest in workplace health is presenteeism; the measurable extent to which physical or psychosocial symptoms, conditions and disease adversely affect the work productivity of those who choose to remain at work. Given established links between presenteeism and health, and health and physical activity, presenteeism could be an important outcome in workplace physical activity research. This study provides a narrative review of questionnaires for use in such research. 

Methods: Eight self-report measures of presenteeism were identified. Information regarding development, constructs measured and psychometric properties was extracted from relevant articles. 

Results: Questionnaires were largely self-administered, had 4-44 items, and recall periods ranging from 1 week to 1 year. Items were identified as assessing work performance, physical tolerance, psychological well-being and social or role functioning. Samples used to test questionnaires were predominantly American male employees, with an age range of 30-59 years. All instruments had undergone psychometric assessment, most commonly discriminant and construct validity. 

Conclusion: Based on instrument characteristics, the range of conceptual foci covered and acceptable measurement properties, the Health and Work Questionnaire, Work Ability Index, and Work Limitations Questionnaire are suggested as most suitable for further exploring the relationship between physical activity and presenteeism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


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