Long working hours and alcohol risk among Australian and New Zealand nurses and midwives: A cross-sectional study

Philip J. Schluter, Catherine Turner, Christine Benefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The relationship between long working hours and harmful alcohol consumption reported in the literature is equivocal. Objective: This study aimed to investigate this relationship in a methodologically rigorous fashion. 

Design and participants: A cross-sectional analysis of a large cohort study of Australian and New Zealand nurses and midwives was undertaken. 

Methods: Psychometrically robust standardised assessments of alcohol consumption and problems and other key variables were elicited using an electronic survey. Crude and adjusted logistic regression models using complete case and multistage multiple imputed data were employed. 

Results: The study included 4419 participants, 3552 from Australia and 867 from New Zealand. Long working hours were common, with 33.2% working 40-49. h/week and 7.5% working ≥50. h/week. Overall, 13.9% engaged in harmful daily drinking. Significant associations between long working hours and harmful daily alcohol consumption was seen in crude and adjusted complete case and imputed logistic regression models. In the adjusted model with imputed data, the odds of harmful daily drinking increased by 1.17 (95% confidence interval: 1.01, 1.36) between <40. h/week and 40-49. h/week groups, and between 40-49. h/week and ≥50. h/week groups. 

Conclusions: Many nurses and midwives engaging in harmful daily drinking and work long hours. Since the late 1970s, the average hours worked by full-time employees in Australia has increased. Unless these long working hours can be curbed, workforce policies and programmes aimed at prevention, supportive and empathetic intervention, and recovery need to be instigated; both to protect patients and the nurses and midwives themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-709
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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