Few large nationwide studies have investigated the relationship between shiftwork and cognitive performance, and little is known about whether and how psychological distress may impact this relationship. This study aimed to examine: (1) the cross-sectional relationship between shiftwork (yes/no) and some aspects of cognitive performance (declarative memory and executive functioning) and (2) the potential moderating effect of psychological distress among 20,610 community-dwelling adults from the comprehensive cohort of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Differences by sex and retirement status were also explored. Shiftwork was significantly associated with poorer performance for executive functioning (interference condition: ß = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.63; MAT: ß = -0.85, 95% CI: -1.21 to -0.50) but not for declarative memory. Completely and not/partly retired males showed poorer cognitive performance on executive functioning. However, no evidence of a moderating effect by psychological distress was found. Our findings confirm the association between shiftwork and cognitive performance and highlight important health correlates of shiftwork.
Keywords: CLSA; cognitive performance; psychological distress; shift schedules; shiftwork.