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Health Promoting Work Schedules: The Effect of Abolishing Quick Returns

Introduction In shift work, quick returns refer to transitions between two shifts with less than 11 hours available rest time. In a recent report, as many as twenty-three per cent of employees in European countries reported having quick returns. Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that quick returns are related to shorter sleep duration, fatigue, sleepiness, work-related accidents, and sickness absence. The present study is the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to investigate the effect of abolishing quick returns for six months, compared to a work schedule that maintain quick returns during the same time frame. Methods and analysis A parallel-group cluster randomized controlled trial in a target sample of about 2700 healthcare workers at Haukeland University Hospital in Norway will be conducted. A total of 69 hospital units will be randomized to a work schedule without quick returns for six months, or continue with a schedule that includes quick returns. The primary outcome is sickness absence data retrieved from the local records kept by the hospital; secondary outcomes are questionnaire data (n ≈ 2700 invited) on sleep and functioning, physical and psychological health, work-related accidents, and turnover intention. For a subsample, sleep diary and sleep radar (n ≈ 70) data will be collected. Ethics and dissemination The study protocol was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics in Western Norway (2020/200386). Findings from the trial will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. Exploratory analyses of potential mediators and moderators will be reported separately. User-friendly outputs will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders, unions and other relevant societal groups.

Bergen, VestlandStart: January 2021