Study refutes the notion that longer nurse shifts are better

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Red flag: Dall’Ora says that nurses are not satisfied with longer shifts.
Red flag: Dall’Ora says that nurses are not satisfied with longer shifts.

Nurses who work long shifts may experience job dissatisfaction and a risk of burnout, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Southampton compared job satisfaction in nurses who worked shifts that were eight hours or less with those whose shifts lasted 12 or more hours. The results found longer shifts were linked with a 40% higher level of job dissatisfaction, and a 31% higher risk of planning to quit.

The study's authors noted that long nursing shifts are common in Europe because they're often believed to increase efficiency and productivity in nurses. They also allow nurses to have more flexible schedules and days off of work.

“Current literature tends to report that 12-hour shifts represent a way to retain nurses in hospital clinical practice because it is believed to be the preferred shift length and that nurses are more satisfied with their jobs. Our results suggest the opposite,” wrote author Chiara Dall'Ora, M.Sc., of the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.

She said the results should raise a red flag to those who want to improve turnover.

Nearly 25% of the 32,000 nurses surveyed for the study reported dissatisfaction with the flexibility of their work schedules and jobs overall. A third of those surveyed said they planned to leave their job.

Results of the study appeared on BMJ Open