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A longitudinal study on social, psychological, and physiological consequences of permanent night shifts and 12-hour shifts

Project number: F 2409 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) / ars serendi GbR Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2020-12-31


The aim of the research project is to investigate short- and long-term social, psychological, and physiological consequences of permanent night shifts and 12-hour shifts. The investigation is conceptualized as a longitudinal study over two years with four times of measurement and will be carried out among employees with comparable work tasks.

To provide an overview on current developments of research on 12-hour shifts and use this existing knowledge for the planned cross-sectional and longitudinal study, a systematic literature search and analysis will be conducted. A review on impact of permanent night shift is currently prepared and will be available as a basis for further planning our longitudinal study.

On the basis of the results of both reviews variables to measure relevant indicators of strain impact of permanent night shift and 12-hour shifts are chosen. The decision on which variables are finally used to measure the social, psychological, and physiological parameters is made jointly with our cooperation partners (Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA) and the personnel consulting company Ars Serendi which has been assigned to ensure the access to the field by the Industrial Union in the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industry /IG BCE). The social and psychological parameters are analyzed by BAuA staff involved in the project. The (psycho-)physiological data are analyzed in close cooperation with the IPA.

For the analyses we aim at using a matching method in which shift workers working in permanent night shift resp. 12-hour shifts are compared to persons of a control group (e.g. day workers or workers in rotating shifts) who share comparable socio-demographic characteristics and working conditions. The results will provide information on specific risk exposure constellations of permanent night shift and 12-hour shifts. Moreover, drawing upon findings from the first two times of measurement, a feasibility analysis of an in-depth study is carried out. This study will provide the possibility to explore specific (psycho-)physiological or psychological parameters that need repeated measurements over several days.

Results of the project will give new insights to the relationship between permanent night shifts as well as 12-hour shifts and social integration, psychological, and physiological health. Further, the results provide new insights into changes that go along with ongoing demographic changes among the workforce. The findings of the investigation will be made available to the public and the scientific community in the form of scientific papers, publications for the public and presentations at congresses.


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