Women’s Experience of working shiftwork while caring for children

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While the physiological and psychosocial effects of shiftwork have been long documented, there is minimal research within the shiftwork literature base, that provides qualitative accounts of the experience of shiftworkers, and the effects of shiftwork on their sense of self and relationships with others. This study aimed to uncover women’s experience of working shiftwork as a nurse whilst raising children.
This study was undertaken using a Hermeneutic Phenomenological framework. After ethical approval, semi structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of ten participants who worked either permanent nightshift or a rotating roster, though more of the women worked nightshift. Interviews ranged between one hour and two hours in length, and after verbatim transcription, were analysed using thematic analysis to draw out themes.
Two main themes were revealed. The first was Being Guilty which was the major theme of the study. The second was Being Juggler and was comprised of three sub themes of Managing Children, Managing Home and Managing Self Needs.
Being Guilty was the overarching theme of the study as guilt pervaded aspects of the women’s work and home life. The women in the study overwhelmingly felt they were not doing a good job either at work or at home and this drove them to feel guilt towards both parts of their lives.
The second theme, Being Juggler, was the sense of trying to keep all the balls in the air. The women felt it was their job to manage their children and home, all whilst working part or full time shiftwork. To do this most of women reduced their sleep time, often sleeping during the day for short periods either when children were at day-care or school, or they slept whilst caring for their children, sometimes inadvertently.
The women in this study enjoyed the benefits or working and earning a wage, with the disadvantages of mostly undertaking the majority of childcare and house work themselves. This led to these women decreasing their sleep time to care for their children, thus increasing the risks of accidents or incidents at work and on the road. Gender roles in work and at home, and the implications of failing to recognise the impact of these on both personal and patient safety will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event23rd International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time: Working Time Society 2017 - Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru, Australia
Duration: 19 Jun 201723 Jun 2017


Conference23rd International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time
Internet address

Grant Number

  • Shiftwork
  • Nursing
  • Shift work
  • Women
  • Children
  • Qualitative
  • Phenomenology
  • Nurses


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