Shift Work Linked to Decreased Cognitive Performance

Neurobehavioral impairment seen for processing speed, working memory, other cognitive functions

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WEDNESDAY, March 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Shift and night work is associated with various types of decreased cognitive performance, according to a meta-analysis published online March 8 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Thomas Vlasak, from Sigmund Freud Private University Linz in Austria, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature search and performed a meta-analysis of data from observational studies evaluating the association between shift work exposure and cognitive functions. To summarize the mean differences between the exposure group and controls, the authors executed a random-effects model using Hedges' g as a meta-analytical effect size with a restricted-likelihood estimator.

Based upon 18 included studies (18,802 participants), the researchers observed significantly worse performance in shift workers versus nonshift workers for the following cognitive functions: processing speed (Hedges' g, 0.16; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.02 to 0.30), working memory (Hedges' g, 0.28; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.51 to 0.50), psychomotor vigilance (Hedges' g, 0.21; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.05 to 0.37), cognitive control (Hedges' g, 0.86; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.45 to 1.27), and visual attention (Hedges' g, 0.19; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.11 to 0.26).

"Reduced neurobehavioral performance in shift workers might play an important role regarding work-related injuries and errors," the authors write. "Occupational health policies should focus on promoting protective countermeasures (e.g., naps, cognitive monitoring, recovery plans) to prevent adverse health outcomes for workers and negative consequences for involved third parties."

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Physician’s Briefing Staff

Updated on March 16, 2022

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