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Clues to reducing negative impact of shift work

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Rotating shifts more quickly may reduce the risk of nurses experiencing ill health or social problems associated with working long-term unsocial hours, say UK researchers.

Regularly working night shifts or outside 7am to 6pm on weekdays has previously been shown to put staff at greater risk of a range of problems such as substance abuse, sleep disturbances, absenteeism, injuries and accidents, according to researchers at Durham University.

They carried out a systematic review of 26 studies on shift workers from around the world including nurses, police officers and manufacturing workers. It looked at the influence of organisational changes on the health and wellbeing of shift workers.

The review suggested that rotating workers through shift changes more quickly, such as every three or four days rather than weekly, was better for the health of staff.

Read the full story in next week's NT.

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