Objectives Shift work is associated with adverse physical and psychological health outcomes. However, the independent health effects of night work and rotating shift on workers' sleep and mental health risks and the potential gender differences have not been fully evaluated.
Methods We used data from a nationwide survey of representative employees of Taiwan in 2013, consisting of 16 440 employees. Participants reported their work shift patterns 1 week prior to the survey, which were classified into the four following shift types: fixed day, rotating day, fixed night and rotating night shifts. Also obtained were self-reported sleep duration, presence of insomnia, burnout and mental disorder assessed by the Brief Symptom Rating Scale.
Results Among all shift types, workers with fixed night shifts were found to have the shortest duration of sleep, highest level of burnout score, and highest prevalence of insomnia and minor mental disorders. Gender-stratified regression analyses with adjustment of age, education and psychosocial work conditions showed that both in male and female workers, fixed night shifts were associated with greater risks for short sleep duration (<7 hours per day) and insomnia. In female workers, fixed night shifts were also associated with increased risks for burnout and mental disorders, but after adjusting for insomnia, the associations between fixed night shifts and poor mental health were no longer significant.
Conclusions The findings of this study suggested that a fixed night shift was associated with greater risks for sleep and mental health problems, and the associations might be mediated by sleep disturbance.
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Contributors W-JC conceived the study, conducted data analyses and drafted the manuscript. YC provided guidance in research design and data analyses and revised the manuscript. Both authors contributed equally to the refinement of the final manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.