Shift work tolerance and the importance of sleep quality: A study of police officers

  • Lammers-Van Der Holst H
  • Kerkhof G
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The aim of this study was to examine how subjective shift work tolerance
was related to general health variables, with the expectation of
inter-individual differences in the nature of this relation. A total of
740 employees of the Dutch Police force completed a questionnaire,
covering seven health-related domains: sleep quality, sleep duration,
need for recovery, fatigue, physical health, mental health, and
work-life balance. Based on subjective reports of shift work tolerance,
participants were classified as intolerant, medium-tolerant, or tolerant
workers. Analysis involved group comparisons, regression, and cluster
analysis. Eighteen percentage of the shift workers were classified as
intolerant. The intolerant and medium-tolerant workers expressed more
severe complaints than the tolerant workers, for all seven
health-related domains. Shift work tolerance was primarily related to
sleep quality and subsequently to need for recovery, fatigue, and
work-life balance. No indications were found for systematic
inter-individual differences in the nature of this relationship. For all
participants equally, the degree of shift work tolerance was related to
the severity of health-related complaints. This study highlights the
central role of sleep for tolerance to shift work and underlines the
need for occupational medicine to take explicit account of sleep.

Author-supplied keywords

  • inter-individual variability
  • police
  • shift work tolerance
  • sleep

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  • Heidi M. Lammers-Van Der Holst

  • Gerard A. Kerkhof

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