A recent article posted in NursingTimes.net discussed the potential risk associated with nurses working 12-hour shifts versus 8-hour shifts. Some may find it more appealing to work longer shifts to have more days away from work, but is overall job satisfaction any better?
Researchers from the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London and Southampton University reviewed 26 studies carried out from 1982 to 2014 in the UK, US, and European Union. After analyzing survey data, researchers found the impact of different shift lengths was weak to moderate, and some degree of negativity was associated with working longer shifts. Furthermore, 12-hour shifts may put both the nurse and the patient at risk due to staff fatigue.
Interestingly though, the 12-hour shift schedule has increased over the years, decreasing the need for nurses to work 8-hour shifts. There are many reasons for this; a few are stemmed from the fact that it's more cost-effective for nurses to work 12-hour shifts versus 8-hour-shifts. Also, many believe that longer shifts improve continuity of care and allow nurses to have more flexibility with their work schedule. But are the risks outweighing the benefits?
"Meanwhile, the overall job satisfaction reported is no better for those working 12-hour shifts than those working 8-hour shifts," said Professor Peter Griffiths, chair of health services research at Southampton University. He notes that the findings mirror those of the European-wide RN4Cast study, which showed that longer shifts were linked with nurses reporting lower quality care, more missed care, and higher levels of nurse burnout.
What are your thoughts on shift schedules for nurses? Are longer shifts putting our cancer patients at risk?