Multidimensional aspects related to shiftworkers' health and well-being

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The impact of shift and night work on health shows a high inter- and intra-individual variability, both in terms of kind of troubles and temporal occurrence, related to various intervening factors dealing with individual characteristics, lifestyles, work demands, company organisation, family relations and social conditions. The way we define "health" and "well-being" can significantly influence appraisals, outcomes and interventions. As the goal is the optimisation of shiftworkers' health, it is necessary to go beyond the health protection and to act for health promotion. In this perspective, not only people related to medical sciences, but many other actors (ergonomists, psychologists, sociologists, educators, legislators), as well as shiftworkers themselves. Many models have been proposed aimed at describing the intervening variables mediating and/or moderating the effects; they try to define the interactions and the pathways connecting risk factors and outcomes through several human dimensions, which refer to physiology, psychology, pathology, sociology, ergonomics, economics, politics, and ethics. So, different criteria can be used to evaluate shiftworkers' health and well-being, starting from biological rhythms and ending in severe health disorders, passing through psychological strain, job dissatisfaction, family perturbation and social dis-adaptation, both in the short- and long-term. Consequently, it appears rather arbitrary to focus the problem of shiftworkers' health and tolerance only on specific aspects (e.g. individual characteristics), but a systemic approach appears more appropriate, able to match as many variables as possible, and aimed at defining which factors are the most relevant for those specific work and social conditions. This can support a more effective and profitable (for individuals, companies, and society) adoption of preventive and compensative measures, that must refer more to "countervalues" rather than to "counterweights".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalRevista de Saude Publica
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Health promotion
  • Occupational health
  • Shift work
  • Work hours
  • Workers
  • Working conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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