Sleep duration mediates abdominal and lower-extremity pain after night work in nurses

Abstract

Objectives

The aim of this study was to investigate the association between different working shifts (i.e. morning, evening, night shifts) and headache, musculoskeletal and abdominal pain, and the extent to which reduced sleep duration could account for these associations.

Methods

Nurses (N = 679, 649 female, aged 22–53 years) were followed up for a period of 28 consecutive days, responding to a diary about sleep, shift type and pain complaints (measured on a Likert-type scale ranging from 0 to 3). Generalised structural equation modelling mediation analysis (GSEM) was performed to test whether shift type was associated with higher incidence or higher intensity of pain (headache, pain in neck/shoulders/upper back, upper extremity, low back, lower extremity and abdominal pain), and if this effect was mediated by sleep duration (continuous variable), after controlling for age, work and lifestyle factors.

Results

Pain scores in lower extremities were decreased following night shifts in general. However, when night shifts were followed by short sleep duration, the risk of pain in the lower extremities and abdominal pain were increased. Headache and pain in the upper extremity were increased after night shifts, but were not associated with sleep duration. Pain in the neck/shoulder/upper back and lower back was not related to shift work.

Conclusions

Among nurses in a three-shift rotating schedule, night shifts increased the risk of pain in several regions, but only pain in the lower extremities and abdomen was related to reduced sleep duration.

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Correspondence to Dagfinn Matre.

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Katsifaraki, M., Nilsen, K.B., Christensen, J.O. et al. Sleep duration mediates abdominal and lower-extremity pain after night work in nurses. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 92, 415–422 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-018-1373-9

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Keywords

  • Sleep
  • Pain
  • Shift work
  • Nurses
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Night work