Home > Shiftwork and alcohol consumption: a systematic review of the literature.

Richter, Kneginja and Peter, Lukas and Rodenbeck, Andrea and Weess, Hans Günter and Riedel-Heller, Steffi G and Hillemacher, Thomas (2020) Shiftwork and alcohol consumption: a systematic review of the literature. European Addiction Research, pp. 1-7. doi: 10.1159/000507573.

External website: https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/507573

INTRODUCTION: Shiftwork can be a risk factor for a number of different somatic and psychological health conditions, especially sleep disorders. Shiftworkers sleep less than dayworkers, and 20-40% of them suffer from difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep, which result in reduced capacity for work and social life. A common coping strategy might be the use of alcohol, which presents a health and safety hazard as it further impairs sleep quality and exacerbates sleepiness in the workplace. This review aimed to assess the extent of such possible connections.

METHODS: We performed a systematic search of the scientific literature on shiftwork and alcohol consumption in PubMed, PsycInfo, and Cochrane Library. Only original studies comparing shiftworkers with non-shiftworkers were included. The recommendations of the Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses were followed.

RESULTS: Fourteen articles are included in this review. Six studies report some kind of connection between shift- or nightwork and alcohol consumption, especially as a sleep aid. Conflicting or negative results are reported by 3 studies.

DISCUSSION: Shiftwork, especially working at night and in rotation shifts, is associated with binge drinking disorder in different professions. The reasons for pathological consumption of alcohol can be self-medication of sleep problems or coping with stress and psychosocial problems typical for shiftwork. Nurses aged over 50 years represent one important risk group. These results can be important for preventive programs against sleep disorders, including measures other than drinking alcohol as a sleep aid in the workplace of shiftworkers.

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