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Open Access Research article

Absenteeism among medical and health science undergraduate students at Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Anteneh Assefa Desalegn1*, Asres Berhan1 and Yifru Berhan2

Author Affiliations

1 Pharmacology Unit, School of Medicine, Hawassa University, P.O. Box-1560, Hawassa, Ethiopia

2 Department of gynecology and obstetrics, School of Medicine, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:81  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-81

Published: 14 April 2014



Student absenteeism is a major concern for university education worldwide. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and causes of absenteeism among undergraduate medical and health sciences students at Hawassa University.


We conducted a cross-sectional study using a pretested self-administered structured questionnaire from May-June 2013. The primary outcome indicator was self-reported absenteeism from lectures in the semester preceding the study period. The study included all regular undergraduate students who were enrolled in the University for at least one semester. The data was entered and analyzed using SPSS version 20. The association between class absenteeism and socio-demographic and behavioral correlates of absenteeism was determined by bivariate and multivariate analyses. Results were reported as crude odds ratios (COR), adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).


1200 students consented and filled the questionnaire. Of these students, 43.7% had missed three or more lectures and 14.1% (95% CI = 12.2-16.2) missed more than 8 lectures in the preceding semester. There was a significant association between missing more than 8 lectures and age of students, chosen discipline (medicine), and social drug use. The main reasons reported for missing lectures were preparing for another examination, lack of interest, lecturer’s teaching style, and availability of lecture material.


At Hawassa University College of Medicine and Health Science student habits and teacher performance play a role in absenteeism from lectures. A university culture that promotes discipline and integrity especially among medical and older students discourages social drug use will likely improve motivation and attendance. Training in teaching methodologies to improve the quality and delivery of lectures should also help increase attendance.

Non-attendance; Absenteeism; Lecture; Tutorial; University students