Social Interactions and Health in the Workplace: Exploring Sickness Absence Behavior in the United Arab Emirates

  • Khasaiba Obaid Al Dalel

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This work focuses on understanding the factors affecting workplace sick leave as an emerging health challenge to governments, especially those faced with rapid economic, social and demographic changes as in the United Arab Emirates. Sick leave has been determined as a public health challenge with significant social and economic impact. Evidence from several countries states sick leave consider to be a good indicator to measure employee health. In the Abu Dhabi emirate (2.5 million population), an average of 2,500 people/day (only those reported to the Health-Authority of Abu Dhabi) take sick leave. The study aims to understand how sick leave is associated with employee's social interactions, health and job performance in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, this research aims to examine how employees' social ties in the workplace affect their sickness absence. This is the first UAE study examining social interactions and health to explain workplace sick leave. A total of 123 co-located employees in an Abu Dhabi governmental department in the Fall of 2012 completed a computerized survey answering questions about their social interactions, environment and health. HR provided sick leave records. Participants also reported sick leave times/durations due to stress. This study shows that there are demographic variables explaining sick leave within male and females, which would include gender as a vulnerable population. Various types of social interactions in the workplace also explained sick leave, primarily in males. Therefore, it is important to understand these associations to improve occupational health by developing appropriate occupational, cultural health strategies and public health strategies.
Date of AwardMay 2014
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorInas Khayal (Supervisor)


  • Absence Behavior; Workplace; Sickness; United Arab Emirates; Public Health Strategies.

Cite this