Healthcare shift work associated with increased odds of metabolic syndrome

The first meta-analysis to explore the association between shift employment and the possibility of developing metabolic syndrome (MetS), particularly among the healthcare sector employees, has found shift workers were shown to have a high prevalence of MetS in comparison to their non-shift working counterparts. Outcomes of the meta-analysis, ‘Shift work and the risk for metabolic syndrome among healthcare workers: A systematic review and meta‐analysis’, published in Obesity Reviews, showed a twofold increased risk for the development of MetS in shift workers relative to the day group.

Dr Piumika Sooriyaarachchi and colleagues from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, conducted a systematic review of the literature to examine the association between shift work and the risk of MetS in employees of the health sector. Eligible studies compared the prevalence of MetS between day and shift health care workers. A total of 12 studies met the inclusion criteria.

The sample sizes in the studies varied from 42 to 738 participants, and subject age ranged from 18 to 65 years. Ten and two of the studies had high and average methodological quality, respectively. The researchers found that ten of the studies demonstrated higher risk of developing MetS for shift workers versus day workers. Based on 12 studies, the pooled odds ratio for MetS in shift workers was 2.17.


“Therefore, to safeguard shift workers from MetS, health promotion programmes as well as other interventional strategies to adopt healthy environmental and behavioural changes should be introduced,” the authors concluded. “In addition, organizations should streamline the shift work system with well-designed rotational shift schedules to allow employees to maintain work/life balance.”


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