The effect of shiftwork on dietary intake and personal health perspective of nurses

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Virginia Tech


purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in dietary intakes and meal patterns, schedule satisfaction, and health satisfaction between nurses who work a permanent day shift (controls), and nurses who work alternate schedules. Subjects were selected from four hospitals: a large urban military hospital, a small military hospital located on a southern army base, a large southern community hospital, and a large southern university teaching hospital. One hundred and eighty full-time nurses were assigned to four schedule groups: Day, Evening, Night, and Rotating. Subjects completed a detailed survey regarding their work history, schedule and health satisfaction, meal patterns, and background, as well as a 24-hour dietary recall. Nurses who worked permanent days were the most satisfied with their schedules, followed, in order of priority, by the Night, Evening, and Rotating shift groups. Day shift nurses were also the most satisfied with the way their schedule affected their health, followed by nurses in the Evening, Night, and Rotating shift groups.

There were no significant differences among the groups in nutrient intake although there were some differences in eating patterns. Nurses working the day shift ate more meals each day and more meals with their families. Rotating shift group nurses were more likely to skip meals. Nurses working the night shift ate more snacks per day and more snacks while at work. Nutrient analysis revealed that all four groups had intakes deficient in Vitamin D according to the RDA. Intakes were below the RDA for calcium, but only the Evening shift group was deficient.