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Changes in work schedule affect headache frequency among Norwegian nurses: a 3-year-follow-up study


Objectives To explore whether changes in work schedule, number of night shifts and number of quick returns were related to changes in headache frequencies.

Methods A longitudinal study with questionnaire data from 2014 (baseline) and 2017 (follow-up) on work schedule (day only, shift work without nights and shift work with nights), number of night shifts, number of quick returns (less than 11 hours in-between shifts) and validated headache diagnoses among 1104 Norwegian nurses. Associations were explored by adjusted multivariate regression analyses.

Results The median age at baseline was 37 years (IQR 31–43) and 90.5% were women. In the adjusted logistic regression analysis of changed work schedule between baseline and follow-up, changing from night work was associated with increased odds for reversion from headache >1 days/month to no headache at all last year (OR 2.77 (1.29; 5.95)). Changes towards less night shifts (>10) or quick returns (>10) during the last year were associated with increased odds of reversion of headache to no headache (OR 2.23 (1.20; 4.17) and OR 1.90 (1.04; 3.49)). Only decrease in number of night shifts (>10) during the last year reduced risk of onset of any new headache between baseline and follow-up (OR of 0.39 (0.18; 0.84)).

Conclusion Changing from night work and reducing the number of night shifts and quick returns were associated with less headache in this 3-year-follow-up of Norwegian nurses. This adds to the growing body of evidence that night work may have direct negative health consequences.

  • Shift Work Schedule
  • Sleep

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. To access data, researchers are welcome to contact the corresponding author. For more information, please refer to the project web page (

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