Shift work and respiratory infections in health-care workers

Bette Loef, Debbie van Baarle, Allard J. van der Beek, Elisabeth A. M. Sanders, Patricia Bruijning-Verhagen, Karin I. Proper

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Recently, there has been interest in whether shift work may enhance susceptibility to infection. Our aim was to determine whether shift workers in the health-care field have a higher incidence, duration, and/or severity of influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute respiratory infection (ARI) than non-shift workers. From September 2016 to June 2017, 501 rotating and/or night-shift workers and 88 non-shift workers from the Klokwerk+ Study (the Netherlands, 2016-2017) registered the occurrence of ILI/ARI symptoms daily using a smartphone application. The incidence rate of ILI/ARI (defined as ≥2 symptoms on the same day/≥1 symptom on 2 consecutive days), the mean duration of each episode, and the incidence rate of severe episodes were compared between shift workers and non-shift workers using negative binomial regression and linear mixed-model analysis. In total, participants completed 110,347 diaries. Shift workers' incidence rate of ILI/ARI was 1.20 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01, 1.43) times higher than that of non-shift workers, and for severe ILI/ARI episodes, shift workers' incidence rate was 1.22 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.49) times higher. The mean duration of an ILI/ARI episode did not differ (ratio between means = 1.02, 95% CI: 0.87, 1.19). In conclusion, shift workers in health care had more ILI/ARI episodes and more severe ILI/ARI episodes than non-shift workers, but with a similar duration. Insight into underlying mechanisms connecting shift work and infection susceptibility will contribute to the design of preventive initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-517
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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