Shift work to balance everyday life - a salutogenic nursing perspective in home help service in Sweden

BMC Nurs. 2015 Jan 13;14(1):2. doi: 10.1186/s12912-014-0054-6. eCollection 2015.


Background: Nurses in Sweden have a high absence due to illness and many retire before the age of sixty. Factors at work as well as in private life may contribute to health problems. To maintain a healthy work-force there is a need for actions on work-life balance in a salutogenic perspective. The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of resources in everyday life to balance work and private life among nurses in home help service.

Methods: Thirteen semi-structured individual interviews and two focus group interviews were conducted with home help service nurses in Sweden. A qualitative content analysis was used for the analyses.

Result: In the analyses, six themes of perceptions of recourses in everyday life emerged; (i) Reflecting on life. (ii) Being healthy and taking care of yourself. (iii) Having a meaningful job and a supportive work climate. (iv) Working shifts and part time. (v) Having a family and a supporting network. (vi) Making your home your castle.

Conclusions: The result points out the complexity of work-life balance and support that the need for nurses to balance everyday life differs during different phases and transitions in life. In this salutogenic study, the result differs from studies with a pathogenic approach. Shift work and part time work were seen as two resources that contributed to flexibility and a prerequisite to work-life balance. To have time and energy for both private life and work was seen as essential. To reflect on and discuss life gave inner strength to set boundaries and to prioritize both in private life and in work life. Managers in nursing contexts have a great challenge to maintain and strengthen resources which enhance the work-life balance and health of nurses. Salutogenic research is needed to gain an understanding of resources that enhance work-life balance and health in nursing contexts.

Keywords: Health promotion; Home help service; Nursing; Salutogenesis; Work-life balance.