Systematic review of the relationship between quick returns in rotating shift work and health-related outcomes

Ergonomics. 2016;59(1):1-14. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1052020. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


A systematic literature search was carried out to investigate the relationship between quick returns (i.e., 11.0 hours or less between two consecutive shifts) and outcome measures of health, sleep, functional ability and work-life balance. A total of 22 studies published in 21 articles were included. Three types of quick returns were differentiated (from evening to morning/day, night to evening, morning/day to night shifts) where sleep duration and sleepiness appeared to be differently affected depending on which shifts the quick returns occurred between. There were some indications of detrimental effects of quick returns on proximate problems (e.g., sleep, sleepiness and fatigue), although the evidence of associations with more chronic outcome measures (physical and mental health and work-life balance) was inconclusive.

Practitioner summary: Modern societies are dependent on people working shifts. This study systematically reviews literature on the consequences of quick returns (11.0 hours or less between two shifts). Quick returns have detrimental effects on acute health problems. However, the evidence regarding effects on chronic health is inconclusive.

Keywords: quick changeover; quick return; short changeover; short recovery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*