Aim: This paper is a report of a study conducted to determine if satisfaction with irregular working hours that are a form of shiftwork operates as a mediator between work and home characteristics and health problems.
Background: Shiftwork contributes to health problems, decreased well-being and poorer health habits. It also affects employees' decisions to leave the healthcare sector. Although many nurses voluntarily work shifts, there have been few studies of their satisfaction with irregular working hours when these are a form of shiftwork.
Methods: A survey was carried out with 144 nurses working in three nursing homes and one care home in the Netherlands. Questionnaires were distributed in 2003 to 233 nurses who worked shifts (response rate 60%). The questionnaire contained items on work and home characteristics, satisfaction with irregular working hours that are a form of shiftwork and health. A new scale to measure satisfaction with irregular working hours was constructed.
Results: All work characteristics, but no home characteristics, were associated with satisfaction with irregular working hours. The work characteristics 'job demands' and the home characteristics 'autonomy at home' and 'home demands' were associated with health. Satisfaction with irregular working hours did not mediate between work/home characteristics and health. Those reporting more social support, lower job demands and more job autonomy were more satisfied with their irregular working times that were a form of shiftwork.
Conclusions: Satisfaction with irregular working hours is a useful construct that requires further longitudinal study. The results also underline the importance of considering home characteristics when predicting health outcomes.