Long working hours and health

Health Rep. 1999 Autumn;11(2):33-48(Eng); 37-55(Fre).
[Article in English, French]


Objectives: This article examines associations between long working hours, depression and changes in selected health behaviours. Based on an analysis of people followed over a two-year period, the relationship between changes in work hours and changes in health behaviours is explored.

Data source: The data are from the household longitudinal component of the 1994/95 and 1996/97 cycles of the National Population Health Survey, conducted by Statistics Canada. Results are based on 3,830 adult workers aged 25 to 54 (2,181 men and 1,649 women) who worked 35 hours or more per week throughout the year before their 1994/95 interview.

Analytical techniques: Multivariate analyses were used to estimate associations between working hours and depression, and changes in weight, smoking, drinking and exercise, while controlling for potential socioeconomic and work-related confounders such as education, income, occupation, shift work and self-employment.

Main results: Women who worked long hours had increased odds of subsequently experiencing depression. Moving from standard to long hours was associated with unhealthy weight gain for men, with an increase in smoking for both men and women, and with an increase in drinking for women. No associations were detected for physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Depression*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*