The impact of shiftwork on health: a literature review
Article first published online: 27 JAN 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Clinical Nursing
Volume 23, Issue 23-24, pages 3309–3320, December 2014
How to Cite
Matheson, A., O'Brien, L. and Reid, J.-A. (2014), The impact of shiftwork on health: a literature review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23: 3309–3320. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12524
- Issue published online: 17 NOV 2014
- Article first published online: 27 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 OCT 2013
- general health;
- nursing workforce;
- shift work;
Aims and objectives
To identify the impact of shiftwork on individuals and their lives and to discuss the implications this has for nurses and nursing.
The context of shiftwork in the early 21st century is changing rapidly, and those involved in or required to work shiftwork are now spread over many different sectors of the community. In the Australian community, 16% of workers regularly work shiftwork. Most nurses undertake shiftwork at some time in their career, and health services could not operate without a shiftworking nursing workforce.
Narrative literature review.
A narrative review of journal articles was conducted. Databases searched were CINAHL, EBSCO Host, JSTOR, Medline/PubMed and Google Scholar. Search terms used were ‘shiftwork’ and ‘shift work’. Limitations included ‘English language’, ‘published between 1980–2013’ and ‘human’.
Reviewed for this paper were 118 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Results were categorised using thematic analysis. Themes that emerged were physical and psychosocial health, and sleep. Findings will be explored under these themes.
Shiftwork research has mainly focussed on the physiological and psychosocial health and sleep effects. Absent from the literature are studies focussing on the personal experience of the shiftworker and how workers mediate the effects of shiftwork and how shiftwork fits into the rest of their lives. Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions about how people ‘manage’ their shiftwork, and further research needs to be undertaken in this area.
Relevance to clinical practice
Working shifts for nurses is a reality that comes with the profession. While there is a significant body of research on shiftwork, little of this has been specifically applied to nursing, and the implications for individual nurses needing to care for their own health have not been drawn.