Irish nurses at higher risk of burnout due to working 12-hour shifts
Nearly 80pc of Irish nurses report working 12-hour shifts as new research shows that these lengthy working periods are linked to a heightened risk of burnout.
A survey said that 12-hour shifts or longer have become increasingly common for nurses in some countries in Europe.
However, researchers found that these shifts were linked to a heightened risk of burnout, job dissatisfaction, and intention to leave among hospital nurses in 12 European countries.
The findings run counter to the perceived value among both nurses and employers of working longer shifts, which are increasingly common practice in Ireland, England and Poland, the researchers said.
They said that nursing shifts have been lengthening, driven by the perception that they boost efficiency and productivity and offer increased flexibility and more full days off work. But these extended working patterns have not been comprehensively evaluated, the researchers said.
Researchers said the analysis of the responses showed that shift length of 12 hours or longer were associated with greater levels of burnout in all three dimensions - job dissatisfaction, working schedule dissatisfaction and intention to leave.
For example, job dissatisfaction rose 40pc among those clocking up shifts of 12-plus hours compared with those working shifts of eight hours or less, while the intention to leave rose to 31pc.
The British researchers said that employers need to be aware of the potential effects of burnout, which include a heightened risk of making a mistake, poorer quality of care, compromised wellbeing, increased absenteeism and high staff turnover.
"All shifts longer than eight hours are associated with higher job dissatisfaction," the survey found.
"Our results provide the basis for managers and nurses alike to question routine implementation of shifts longer than eight hours."
The survey - published in the online journal BMJ Open - talked to 31,627 registered hospital nurses excluding those in intensive or long-term care units, in 488 hospitals in Ireland, Belgium, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.
The most common shift length was eight or fewer hours (50pc); almost a third (31pc) worked eight to 10 hours; 4pc worked 10 to less than 12 hours; and 14pc worked 12 to 13 hours. Just 1pc worked more than 13 hours.
However, in Poland, 99pc of nurses reported working 12-hour or longer shifts, compared to Ireland (79pc) and England (36pc).