Research priorities to reduce risks from work hours and fatigue in the healthcare and social assistance sector

Claire C. Caruso, Megan W. Arbour, Ann M. Berger, Beverly M. Hittle, Sharon Tucker, Patricia A. Patrician, Alison M. Trinkoff, Ann E. Rogers, Laura K. Barger, J. Cole Edmonson, Christopher P. Landrigan, Nancy S. Redeker, Eileen R. Chasens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The services of Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA) workers are needed by society around the clock. As a result, these workers are exposed to shift work and long work hours. The combination of demanding work schedules and other hazards in the HCSA work environment increases the health and safety risks to these workers, as well as to their patients/clients and the public. Methods: This paper has three aims: (1) provide an overview of the burden of shift work, long hours, and related sleep and fatigue problems in this sector; (2) suggest research priorities that would improve these; and (3) discuss potential positive impacts of addressing these research priorities for the health and safety of workers and the public. The authors used a modified Delphi approach to anonymously rank-order priorities for improving HCSA worker health and safety and public safety. Input was also obtained from attendees at the 2019 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Work Hours, Sleep, and Fatigue Forum. Results: The highest rated research priorities were developing better designs for work schedules, and improving the HCSA culture and leadership approaches to shift work and long work hours. Additional priorities are identified. Conclusion: Research in these priority areas has the potential to benefit HCSA workers as well as their patients/clients, employers, and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-877
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • circadian rhythms
  • fatigue
  • long work hours
  • nurses
  • occupational health
  • physicians
  • public safety
  • shift work
  • sleep health
  • veterinarians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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