Spotlight on article published in BMC Public Health 

IBI Spotlights call attention to important health and productivity findings from peer-reviewed work by external researchers. Unless otherwise stated, the authors are not affiliated with IBI, nor was the research executed on IBI’s behalf. IBI members are encouraged to obtain the original articles from the copyright holder.

What is the Issue?

Workplace health promotion programs (WHP) are common, but their impact on presenteeism is not well known.

What are the findings/solutions?

  • Relatively few good quality studies of WHP and presenteeism exist
  • Of 14 moderate-to-strong quality studies, 10 found that WHP programs improved presenteeism outcomes.
  • Organizational leadership, health risk screening, individually-tailored programs, and supportive workplace environments provide better chances of reducing presenteeism.

Journal Citation

Cancelliere, C., Cassidy, J. D., Ammendolia, C., & Côté, P. (2011). Are Workplace Health Promotion Programs Effective at Improving Presenteeism in Workers? A Systematic Review and Best Evidence Synthesis of the Literature. _BMC Public Health_, 11(1), 395.


1) To appraise the literature on workplace health promotion to determine any impact on presenteeism. 2) To identify characteristics of WHP programs that successfully improve presenteeism outcomes.


A systematic review of studies that measure the impact of WHP specifically on presenteeism (i.e., not combined with measures of absenteeism). Out of 2,032 articles screened, 47 were reviewed and 14 found to be of good quality in accordance with established guidelines.


Overall, 10 out of 14 studies found evidence that WHP could reduce presenteeism. Two of the studies were of strong quality, eight were of moderate quality.

  • Two strong quality and two moderate quality studies found that WHP was unsuccessful at improving presenteeism.
  • The results support the use of at least one of six design features of WHP programs in order to reduce presenteeism
  • Involve supervisors/managers
  • Target environmental/organizational factors to influence behavior
  • Screen workers with HRAs or other methods
  • improve supervisors’/managers’ awareness of mental health issues in the workplace
  • Allow physical exercise to occur during working hours
  • Individually tailor programs


The evidence regarding the ability to improving presenteeism through WHP is promising, but standard metrics of presenteeism are still needed.