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Abstract

Within the fields of mental and occupational health, the “night shift” is one of the major concerns the work-time schedule. The association between working at night and the occurrence of mental health symptoms among women workers has been a subject of considerable debate. This study explores the association between working at night and mental health symptoms, and the mediating factors to this association. This study examined a database of 500 factory workers, about 90% of whom were women who had originally been pat of a study of hazard exposures and the occupational health of workers in export processing zones in the Philippines. The database included variables relating to work schedule such as the night shift, overtime, and extended work, as well as mental and psychological health indices collected through a survey questionnaire. Descriptive statistics developed, and the crude associations between shift schedule and probable confounders with the frequency of occurrence of mental health symptoms were studied using a chi-square test of association. The confounding effect of each probable confounding variable including age, sex, educational attainment, tenure and workload towards the main association (the night shift and mental health hazard) was analyzed by obtaining the Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios of the association, controlling for the particular confounder. A multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the overall association of interest, simultaneously controlling for all confounders. The crude odds ratio for the association between shift schedule and frequency of occurrence of mental health symptoms is 2.13 (0.77-5.81). This means that without adjusting for confounders, those who work night shifts are 2.13 times more likely to have a frequent occurrence of mental health symptoms as compared to those who work in the daytime hours. Specifically, among women, those who work at night are 2.97 times more likely to have frequent occurrences of mental health symptoms compared to those who work in the day. Controlling for age, sex, educational attainment, tenure, workload, and exposure to occupational hazards, those who work at night are 2.13 (0.79-5.71) times more likely to have frequent episodes of mental health symptoms compared to those who work in the morning. Those who are frequently exposed to occupational hazards are 5.78 (1.17-28.71) times more likely to have frequent mental health symptoms as compared to those who are not. The evidence for this association is strong. The study has shown that among Filipino women factory workers, nightshift work is associated with mental health symptoms. There is a need to address the problems encountered by night shifters, especially the mediating exposure to occupational hazards. There may be conditions at work that predispose women workers to more hazards during night shifts compared to day shifts. Mental health among night shifters should be addressed as a concern in occupational health.

Note on the Author

Sophia Francesca D. LU Lecturer, School of Labor and Industrial Relations University of the Philippines Diliman sdlu@up.edu.ph

Jinky Leilanie D. LU National Institutes of Health University of the Philippines Manila jdlu@up.edu.ph jinky_lu@yahoo.com

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