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Are long nursing shifts on hospital wards associated with sickness absence? A longitudinal retrospective observational study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Chiara Dall'Ora
  • Jane Ball
  • Oliver Redfern
  • Alejandra Recio-Saucedo
  • Antonello Maruotti
  • Paul Meredith
  • Peter Griffiths
Objective: to investigate whether working ≥12-hour shifts is associated with increased sickness absence among registered nurses (RNs) and healthcare assistants (HCAs).

Background: previous studies reported negative impacts on nurses’ 12-hour shifts; however, these studies used cross-sectional techniques and subjective nurse-reported data.

Methods: a retrospective longitudinal study using routinely collected data across 32 general inpatient wards at an acute hospital in England. We used generalised linear mixed models to explore the association between shift patterns and the subsequent occurrence of short (<7 days) or long-term (≥7 days) sickness absence.

Results: we analysed 601,282 shifts and 8090 distinct episodes of sickness absence. When more than 75% of shifts worked in the past seven days were ≥12 hours in length, the odds of both a short-term (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)= 1.28; 95% CI: 1.18-1.39) and long-term sickness episode (AOR= 1.22; 95% CI: 1.08-1.37) were increased compared to working none.

Conclusion: working long shifts on hospital wards is associated with a higher risk of sickness absence for RNs and HCAs. Implications for Nursing Managers: the higher sickness absence rates associated with long shifts could result in additional costs or loss of productivity for hospitals. The routine implementation of long shifts should be avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2019


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