Does non-standard work mean non-standard health? Exploring links between non-standard work schedules, health behavior, and well-being

Megan R. Winkler, Susan M Mason, Melissa N Laska, Mary J. Christoph, Dianne R Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The last century has seen dramatic shifts in population work circumstances, leading to an increasing normalization of non-standard work schedules (NSWSs), defined as non-daytime, irregular hours. An ever-growing body of evidence links NSWSs to a host of non-communicable chronic conditions; yet, these associations primarily concentrate on the physiologic mechanisms created by circadian disruption and insufficient sleep. While important, not all NSWSs create such chronobiologic disruption, and other aspects of working time and synchronization could be important to the relationships between work schedules and chronic disease. Leveraging survey data from Project EAT, a population-based study with health-related behavioral and psychological data from U.S. adults aged 25–36 years, this study explored the risks for a broad range of less healthful behavioral and well-being outcomes among NSWS workers compared to standard schedule workers (n = 1402). Variations across different NSWSs (evening, night/rotating, and irregular schedules) were also explored. Results indicated that, relative to standard schedule workers, workers with NSWSs are at increased risk for non-optimal sleep, substance use, greater recreational screen time, worse dietary practices, obesity, and depression. There was minimal evidence to support differences in relative risks across workers with different types of NSWSs. The findings provide insight into the potential links between NSWSs and chronic disease and indicate the relevancy social disruption and daily health practices may play in the production of health and well-being outcomes among working populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalSSM - Population Health
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work for this project was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( R01HL116892 [PI: Neumark-Sztainer]) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases ( T32DK083250 [to Winkler as a postdoctoral fellowship; PI: R. Jeffery]). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Health behavior
  • Mental health
  • Obesity
  • Substance abuse
  • United States
  • Work schedule tolerance


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