Health effects of transitions in work schedule, workhours and overtime in a prospective cohort study

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2007 Apr;33(2):105-113. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.1113.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the longitudinal relationship between transitions in work schedules, workhours and overtime and changes in several self-reported health outcomes (general health, fatigue, need for recovery, and psychological distress).

Methods: Three-year follow-up data from the Maastricht Cohort Study on fatigue at work were used. Gender-stratified logistic regression analyses using generalized estimating equations were conducted for each of the dichotomized health outcomes, with control for a range of possible confounding factors.

Results: In this study, transitions in worktime arrangements were prospectively related to changes in several self-reported health outcomes. Substantial and significant associations were found for transitions in work schedule and the incidence of prolonged fatigue and for the need for recovery among men. Moreover, transitions in workhours affected the need for recovery among men, while they influenced general health and psychological distress among women. Finally, transitions in overtime were significantly associated with the incidence of the need for recovery among both men and women and with the incidence of psychological distress among men only.

Conclusions: Transitions in worktime arrangements are related to changes in health, and studying transitions might be an important means of gaining insight into a possible causal relationship between employment and health. Given the considerable impact of worktime arrangements on the individual worker, employers, and society and the high frequency in which transitions within worktime arrangements can occur, these findings underline the need for interventions addressing worktime arrangements in order to reduce or prevent their impact on employee health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / psychology*