Aim: The aim of this study was to describe and compare the self-assessed quality of sleep, occupational health, working environment, illness experience and job satisfaction among female nurses working different combinations of shifts.
Background: Evidence from several studies indicates that there is an association between the disruption of the circadian cycle caused by shift work and adverse health effects.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was used with a sample of 348 nurses drawn from the registry of the Icelandic Nurses' Association, representing 17% of the workforce of Icelandic nurses. A self-administered questionnaire, measuring occupational health, quality of sleep, the illness experience, job satisfaction and working environment was used. Data were analysed according to type of shift (days only, rotating days/evenings, rotating days/evenings/nights) by use of analysis of variance and chi-square.
Results: No difference was found between participants based on type of shift with regard to the illness experience, job satisfaction and quality of sleep. Nurses working rotating day/evening/night shifts reported a longer working day, more stressful environmental risk factors, more strenuous work and that they were less able to control their work-pace. In general, the nurses reported low severity of symptoms; however, nurses working rotating days/evenings shifts experienced more severe gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal symptoms when compared with others. This was explained by the short rest period provided for between evening and morning shifts.
Conclusions: In general Icelandic nurses are satisfied with their work and their shift assignment does not seem to pathologically disrupt their circadian cycle. Nevertheless, nursing directors are advised to look more closely at the organization of nurses' work during night shifts, as well as the rest period for nurses changing from evening to day shifts.