Health Risks for Nurses Working Night Shift

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:20 PM

Robie Victoria Hughes, DSN, RN, CNS
School of Nursing, Appalachian State University, Boone NC, Boone, NC, USA

Aim and Purpose:  To identify health risks and strategies to reduce health risks for nurse night shift workers through a review of articles published during the last 10 years.

Method:  An electronic literature search for “Health Risks Nurse Night Shift” was conducted using the Pubmed, CINAHL and Health Source:  Nursing/Academic Edition databases.  Inclusion criteria used was English language, full text available articles, and published dates between January 1, 2004 and December 31 2014.  Based on the search criteria a total of 90 articles were identified.  Abstracts for the identified articles were reviewed for relevance and duplicate citations were removed. 

Results:  Identified health risk factors related to night shift work included increased incidents of sleep disorders, fatigue, breast cancer, cardiac disorders, bone density reduction, infertility, overweight/obesity, and hormone disorders. Strategies for dealing with shift work included allowing napping on night shift, stability of continued shift work without rotations, considering “night and day” preferences for shift selection, auctioning off shifts, self-scheduling for shifts and strategies to improve sleep.     

Implication for practice:  The literature review revealed that the negative effects of nurse shift work are almost universal.  Studies were reviewed from 18 countries.  Repeated themes of sleep deprivation, fatigue and negative quality of life for night shift workers were found in the literature review.  Some of the studies examined the age and stage of life factors in influencing the nurse coping with rotating night shifts.  Most of the strategy ideas for coping with shift work came from non-research articles.  There is a need to conduct future research to determine if the identified strategies are effective.