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BACKGROUND: Presenteeism among nurses is the common behaviour of being physically present at work when one should not be due to personal health and well-being, a stressful work environment, lack of work-life balance, or a sense of professional identity or obligation. AIMS: To explore nurses' decision-making process related to presenteeism in a large Hong Kong public hospital. METHODS: As part of a larger study on nurse presenteeism in Hong Kong, we conducted focus groups with nurses to understand their considerations related to working sick. RESULTS: Eleven major themes emerged from the focus groups, which we grouped into three organizational domains reflecting nurses' decision-making process around presenteeism: consideration for colleagues, organizational factors and professional identity. CONCLUSIONS: Presenteeism was a familiar behaviour among Hong Kong nurses in our study. We found both overlap and divergence with prior presenteeism research in the domains and themes identified. Loyalty to colleagues, written and unwritten rules and professional identity as nurses all seemed to encourage presenteeism among Hong Kong nurses. Organizations seeking to discourage presenteeism should evaluate policies such as sick leave certificates, ensure appropriate coverage for all nurse ranks and address subcultural norms encouraging presenteeism.

Original publication





Occup Med (Lond)

Publication Date



Focus groups, human resource management, nurses, presenteeism