NSC Labor Division news Research/studies Worker health and wellness Shift work

Shift work is an occupational hazard, researchers say


Photo: halbergman/iStockphoto

Wuhan, China — Shift work is linked to two kinds of mental health issues – and lifestyle factors can play a role, results of a recent study out of China suggest.

A team from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology looked at 2006-2010 data for nearly 176,000 workers in the UK Biobank research database. Of this group, almost 28,000 engaged in shift work. 

The researchers found that the shift workers were at significantly greater risk for depression and anxiety, identified via electronic health records. The team also examined the potential mediating role of various lifestyles, identifying smoking, sedentary time, body mass index and sleep duration as the main potentially modifiable mediators.

“These mediators together explained 31.3% of the association between shift work and depression and 21.2% of the association between shift work and anxiety,” the researchers write. “These findings not only support that shift work should be considered an occupational hazard, but also provide evidence for the urgent need for the development of public health interventions that promote healthy lifestyles aimed at improving the mental health of shift workers.”

The study was published online in JAMA Network Open.

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