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Frequency of sickness absence and worksite clinic visits among nurses as a function of shift.

Colligan MJ; Frockt IJ; Tasto DL
J Environ Pathol Toxicol 1979 May/Jun; 2(5):135-148
The effects of shift schedules on the incidence of sickness absence and worksite clinic visits were examined among nurses. The subjects were sampled from 12 hospital sites. Participating sites varied in size, geographic locale, and urban setting. Personnel and health records provided information regarding demographic characteristics and employment histories. Information on the number and nature of work absences due to illness were collected for the previous 6 months. Estimates of the frequency of and nature of on the job illnesses for the previous 6 months were obtained from worksite clinical records. These contained information regarding medical complaints and symptoms. The sample was 98 percent female. The mean age was 33.6 years. There were equal numbers of single and divorced nurses. More single nurses were assigned to rotating shifts. The mean length of employment was 4.5 years. Rotating workers took more sick days than workers on fixed shifts. Of the nurses on fixed shifts, night nurses took more sick leave than afternoon shift nurses. Nurses on rotating shifts offered different and more serious reasons for taking sick leave. Rotating shift nurses had higher percentages of clinic visits than nurses on fixed shifts. Workers assigned to rotating shifts were prone to greater health problems than workers on fixed shifts. Upper gastrointestinal tract distress and respiratory infections were the main causes of illness among nurses on rotating shifts. While rotating shift workers may experience a greater incidence of illness than fixed shift workers, they were less inclined to absent themselves from work for minor ailments. The authors suggest an under reporting of physical ailments in shift workers; they may attribute their symptoms to part of the job.
NIOSH-Author; Toxic-effects; Environmental-factors; Absenteeism; Analytical-models; Quantitative-analysis; Work-schedule; Psychological-effects
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Bridbord K; French J
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology. Toxicological and Carcinogenic Health Hazards in the Workplace: proceedings of the First Annual NIOSH Scientific Symposium, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 1978
Page last reviewed: November 13, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division