Split-shift work in relation to stress, health and psychosocial work factors among bus drivers

Publisher's full text
Göran Kecklund

BACKGROUND: Shift work has been associated with poor health, sleep and fatigue problems and low satisfaction with working hours. However, one type of shift working, namely split shifts, have received little attention.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined stress, health and psychosocial aspects of split-shift schedules among bus drivers in urban transport.

METHODS: A questionnaire was distributed to drivers working more than 70% of full time which 235 drivers in total answered.

RESULTS: In general, drivers working split-shift schedules (n = 146) did not differ from drivers not working such shifts (n = 83) as regards any of the outcome variables that were studied. However, when individual perceptions towards split-shift schedules were taken into account, a different picture appeared. Bus drivers who reported problems working split shifts (36%) reported poorer health, higher perceived stress, working hours interfering with social life, lower sleep quality, more persistent fatigue and lower general work satisfaction than those who did not view split shifts as a problem. Moreover, drivers who reported problems with split shifts also perceived lower possibilities to influence working hours, indicating lower work time control.

CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that split shifts were not associated with increased stress, poorer health and adverse psychosocial work factors for the entire study sample. However, the results showed that individual differences were important and approximately one third of the drivers reported problems with split shifts, which in turn was associated with stress, poor health and negative psychosocial work conditions. More research is needed to understand the individual and organizational determinants of tolerance to split shifts.

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