Overview of the medical consequences of shift work

Susan M. Rohr, Susanna G. Von Essen, Lynn A. Farr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Shift work has become a part of everyday life in industrialized nations. Not all workers can adjust to the disruption of the circadian rhythm and the solar day. A complete evaluation before the initiation of shift work can identify workers who are at high risk for the negative health effects that are related to shift work. Clinicians must identify and evaluate shift workers for maladaptation syndrome and must intervene when the signs of maladaptation are present. Clinicians must be aware of the normal circadian physiology and the consequences that occur with desynchronization. Patients with preexisting medical problems may experience an exacerbation of their disease when shift work is instituted. Ethnicity also seems to have a significant role in the risk for an abnormal physiologic response to shift work. Clinicians regularly should assess for the medical, social, and psychologic consequences of shift work as part of routine history and physical examination. They should help to structure a work environment that is shift worker ftiendly. Ongoing research and refinement of working hours, the workforce, and the work environment must continue to minimize the negative health consequences of shift work and circadian-solar disruption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
JournalClinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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