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February 6, 1967

The Physician and Sickness Absence

JAMA. 1967;199(6):413-415. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120060111021

According to recent government statistics, workers' absence because of sickness accounts for a wage loss of more than $15 billion a year. Added to that is the steadily increasing volume of workmen's compensation expenditures for medical care and for cash payments to workers and their dependents, which in 1963 amounted to more than $1 1/2 billion.1

Programs directed at promoting the health of the worker can reduce this loss. It has been estimated that if the overall annual rate of sickness absence could be reduced by only one day, an increase of $10 billion in the gross national product and a substantial reduction in personal suffering would result.1

Many physicians mistakenly consider the control of workers' absence to be strictly a management function, but the role of the medical profession in reducing sickness which causes absence is undeniably important and necessary. Those who have studied the problem believe