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'A hard day's night?' The effects of Compressed Working Week interventions on the health and work-life balance of shift workers: a systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Bambra



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by BMJ Group, 2008.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Objective: To systematically review studies of the effects of the Compressed Working Week on the health and work-life balance of shift workers, and to identify any differential impacts by socio-economic group. Methods: Systematic review. Following QUORUM guidelines, published or unpublished experimental and quasi-experimental studies were identified. Data were sourced from 27 electronic databases, websites, bibliographies, and expert contacts. Results: Forty observational studies were found. The majority of studies only measured self-reported outcomes and the methodological quality of the included studies was not very high. Interventions did not always improve the health of shift workers, but in the five prospective studies with a control group, there were no detrimental effects on self-reported health. However, work-life balance was generally improved. No studies reported differential impacts by socio-economic group; however, most of the studies were conducted on homogeneous populations. Conclusion: This review suggests that the Compressed Working Week can improve work-life balance, and that it may do so with a low risk of adverse health or organisational effects. However, better designed studies that measure objective health outcomes are needed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bambra C, Whitehead M, Sowden A, Akers J, Petticrew M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

Year: 2008

Volume: 62

Issue: 9

Pages: 764-777

Print publication date: 01/09/2008

Online publication date: 13/08/2008

Date deposited: 04/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0143-005X

ISSN (electronic): 1470-2738

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/jech.2007.067249


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