Exploring the relationship between shift-work and depressive symptoms in female nurses
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Evidence is accumulating that the imposed lifestyle associated with shift-work can adversely affect many aspects of nurses’ mental health. The 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses stated depression is more common in nurses than in the general population. Minimal research has focused on depression as a direct outcome of shift-work for registered nurses. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between shift-work and depressive symptoms in female nurses. This study was a discrete analysis of data collected from 151 registered nurses enrolled in the primary study entitled “Work and health: Optimizing nurses’ physical health in hospital work environments” (Tranmer, McGillis-Hall, Katzmarzyk, Parry, et al, 2007). A descriptive correlational design was utilized to describe the relationships between shift-work and depressive symptoms. Shift work was categorized as participants working 8 hours, 12 hours, or a combination of both 8 and 12 hour shifts. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Bivariate analysis showed no statistical significant correlations between CES-D scores and shift-work. However, correlational analysis between individual CES-D questions showed a positive association between shift-work and lack of concentration, decreased motivation to complete tasks, feeling depressed and difficulty sleeping as adverse effects. Fifty-two percent of these shift workers identified problems with keeping focus on the tasks they were performing, 40% described an alteration in motivation, 31% felt depressed and 69% reported sleep disturbances. This study found no direct association between shift-work and depression but found that individual symptoms of depression were related to the shift-work schedule. Studies addressing the effects of shift-work on mental health need to explore options to decrease depressive symptoms, such as impaired cognition and motivation, that were shown to impact upon the worker’s quality of life and quality of care provided.