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Scand J Work Environ Health. 2009 Jan;35(1):48-55.

Differences between day and nonday workers in exposure to physical and psychosocial work factors in the Danish eldercare sector.

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The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lersø Parkallé 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.



The possible interaction between individual and occupational risk factors, the need for meaningful intervention, and the demand for valid shift work research make the accumulation of adverse exposures at certain times of the day of special relevance with respect to occupational health. The aim of the present study was therefore to examine whether there was a clustering of detrimental work factors among female eldercare workers in fixed evening or fixed night shifts when they are compared with workers in fixed day shifts.


This cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study was conducted among 4590 female health care workers in the Danish eldercare sector. The participants worked in nursing homes, in home care, or in both. They answered questions on job demands, job control, and social support, together with questions on physical and psychological violence, physical workload, and passive smoking.


We found that-compared with day workers-fixed nonday workers were more exposed to low job control, low support from leaders, physical and psychological violence, and high physical demands. Nonday workers were, however, less exposed to high demands. These differences remained after control for age, job title, and workplace.


Exposures in the work environment of Danish eldercare workers varied between shifts. In a research perspective these findings stress the importance of adequate adjustment for work factors when the health effects of shift work are studied. Moreover, the results underscore the need for an increased awareness of work factors of special importance among nonday workers when interventions against shiftwork-related occupational disorders are designed.

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