The impact of shift work on people's daily health habits and adverse health outcomes

Isabella Zhao, Catherine Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To review the published scientific literature for studies analysing the association between shift work and people's daily health habits (as measured by diet, exercise, smoking or alcohol consumption) and adverse health outcomes such as obesity. Methods: The following selection criteria were used to systematically search the literature: the studies were to be primary observational or analytical in design; targeted populations were working adults engaged in shift work; and outcome measures were the association between shift work and either diet, exercise, BMI, smoking or alcohol consumption. Data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently by the two authors using a standardised procedure. Synthesis of data is presented in text and tabular format. Meta-analysis was not possible due to the heterogenic nature of the studies reviewed. Results: This review retrieved seventeen studies that met all inclusion criteria. The majority of the studies found that shift workers had more adverse lifestyle behaviours. Compared to non-shift workers, the nutritional intake of shift workers is less healthy and they are more likely to smoke when compared to non-shift workers. Shift workers also tend to be overweight. The impact of shift work on exercise patterns and alcohol consumption could not be ascertained because of the paucity of high quality studies. Conclusions: Shift work impacts negatively on daily health habits and can lead to adverse health outcomes, such as poor dietary intake, smoking, and becoming overweight. The majority of Australian health care workers, and in particular nurses, work rotating shifts. It is important to have a greater understanding of the impact of shift work on our health care workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-22
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


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