Introduction Rapidly rotating shiftwork schedule, is common in hospital nurses as it provides continuity to the patients’ care. It has been suggested that shift rotation in clockwise (CW) direction produces less disruption of circadian rhythms than counterclockwise (CCW) rotation. Little is known about the effects of different direction of shift rotation on work-life balance, particularly in women characterised by additional commitments and responsibilities in the home and outside of work.
Aim To evaluate if CW and CCW shift rotation differently impacts on family and social relationships in female nurses.
Methods One hundred healthy hospital nurses (F, 20–50 years) were enrolled. Fifty of them worked in CW (Morning, M; Afternoon, A; Night, N; two rest days) and 50 in CCW (A, M, M, N, three rest days) shift rotation direction. A daily diary filled out by the nurses at the end of each work-shift provided information concerning family and social relationships during a typical working week. Habits on coffee, smoke, time of meal assumption and home management during working days were also collected.
Result Nurses working on CCW shift rotation reported more frequently difficulties in keeping adequate family and social relationships compared to nurses working on CW one (96% vs 73%, p=0.002).
No differences were reported in coffee (3–4 cups/day), smoking (61%) habits and time of meals assumption (irregular in about 33% of nurses) during working days in the two groups. No differences were reported in the time spent in home management by the two groups.
Discussion CCW shift rotation seemed to disrupt quality of family and social relationships of nurses more than CW one. The fact that CCW shift rotation is associated to higher sleep disturbances and more fatigue in the free-time might partially explain these results. These aspects should be taken into account in shift-work schedule organisation, particularly in women.
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