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Shift work and sickness absence - The mediating roles of work-home conflict and perceived health

Human Resource Management, 57(5), 2018, p 1145 – 1157


Dag Ingvar Jacobsen, Elin M. Fjeldbraaten


This study investigates the relationship between sickness absence and shift work. It is hypothesized that the effect of shift work is linked to sickness absence by two mediators: perceived health and work‐family conflict (WFC). Shift work was hypothesized to have an adverse effect on health, as well as making work‐family balance harder to obtain, both in turn resulting in higher sickness absence. The study distinguishes between self‐declared (short‐term) and doctor declared (long‐term) sickness absence. A survey was conducted covering all employees in a Norwegian hospital working more than 30 % of a full position (N=5272) in January 2012, yielding 1864 valid responses (% response = 36). Survey data was coupled with register data on days of sickness absence in 2014. A model with perceived health and WFC as mediating variables between shift work and sickness absence was tested. The findings indicate no direct effect of shift work on sickness absence, but indirect effects both through WFC and perceived health.