Alcohol Consumption and Workplace Absenteeism: The Moderating Effect of Social Support

Samuel B. Bacharach, Peter Bamberger, Michal Biron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is commonly assumed that alcohol consumption has a significant impact on employee absenteeism, the nature of the alcohol-absence relationship remains poorly understood. Proposing that alcohol impairment likely serves as a key mechanism linking drinking and work absence, we posit that this relationship is likely governed less by the amount of alcohol consumed and more by the way it is consumed. Using a prospective study design and a random sample of urban transit workers, we found that the frequency of heavy episodic drinking over the previous month is positively associated with the number of days of absence recorded in the subsequent 12-month period, whereas modal consumption (a metric capturing the typical amount of alcohol consumed in a given period of time) is not. In addition, consistent with both volitional treatments of absenteeism and social exchange theory, perceived coworker support was found to attenuate, and supervisory support to amplify, the link between the frequency of heavy episodic drinking and absenteeism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-348
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • absenteeism
  • alcohol consumption
  • peer support
  • supervisor support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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