The influence of work patterns on lifestyle behaviours and cardiovascular risk in female hospital workers
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BACKGROUND: The prevalence and burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a concern. While CVD events will occur later in a woman’s life, modifiable risk factors for CVD occur earlier during adult years. While, there is strong evidence linking modifiable risk factors to CVD, the influence of the work environment on CVD risk is poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: The study objectives were to: 1) determine the prevalence of cardiovascular risk indicators; 2) determine the relationships between work patterns and lifestyle behaviours in female hospital workers; 3) determine the relationships between work patterns and cardiovascular risk indicators; and 4) determine the relationships between work patterns, lifestyle behaviours and cardiovascular risk while controlling for covariates. METHODS: Participants were female hospital workers (N= 466) from 2 hospital sites in Southeastern Ontario. Cardiovascular risk data were obtained through anthropometric measurements, blood sampling and self-report. Work pattern data were collected through self-report and linked with hospital administrative work data. Lifestyle behaviour data were obtained through self-report using validated questionnaires. Metabolic syndrome was classified in accordance with the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP) (III) guidelines. RESULTS: Approximately 1 in 4 female participants had the metabolic syndrome, with elevated waist circumference being the most common CVD risk factor. After adjustments, the multivariate analysis found a few key significant associations between irregular work patterns, specifically extended shifts and CVD risk, specifically elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, consistent with the literature, the bivariate analyses revealed that after 6 or more years of shift work, female workers were more likely to develop the metabolic syndrome (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.12, 3.17) and abdominally obesity (OR = 2.0, 95% CI, 1.31, 3.11). CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study suggest that generally work patterns do not influence the development of unhealthy behaviours and cardiovascular risk factors, although a few key exceptions exist. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms linking harmful and protective work pattern characteristics to CVD risk. Given the prevalence of abdominal obesity and overall CVD risk, hospital decision makers need to consider cardiovascular health within healthy workplace initiatives as the healthcare workforce is aging.