Heavy Drinkers, Teetotalers More Likely To Call in Sick for Work Than Moderate Drinkers

By: Marie Donlon

It might seem counterintuitive that non-drinkers would miss more work than moderate drinkers, yet this is what researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health are asserting in a new study.

To reach this conclusion, the research team surveyed roughly 47,000 people in Europe, asking questions about their alcohol consumption as well as questions concerning the number of “sick” days they used at work over a four- to seven-year period.

As such, the team was able to identify five different categories of drinker from non-drinkers through to heavy drinkers. Looking at the data, the team discovered that, unsurprisingly, heavy drinkers called off work more than moderate drinkers, often the result of injury or poisoning.

The research also revealed that people who abstained from alcohol altogether also called off work more often than moderate drinkers, usually citing mental and musculoskeletal disorders and diseases of the digestive and respiratory systems as reasons for calling in.

“Some diseases, or their treatment, prevent alcohol use, which may explain the excess risks among abstainers,” lead author Jenni Ervasti said. “Moreover, participants to whom at-risk drinking causes health problems may be selected out from the labor market, that is, if they retire early or become unemployed. Then, the adverse effects are not seen in absence from work due to illness.”

The study is published in the journal Addiction.