The impact of shiftwork on health: A literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


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. Background. 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.
Design: Narrative literature review.
Methods: 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’.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: Shiftwork research has mainly focussed on the physiological and psychosocial health and sleep effects. Absent from the literature are studies focusing 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3309-3320
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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