Have we underestimated shiftworkers' problems? Evidence from a ‘reminiscence’ study Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper argues that shiftworkers may have gradually habituated to their problems and hence that they underestimate them. Some support for this view was obtained in a 'reminiscence' questionnaire study of retired UK Police Officers who had all subsequently taken on another (mainly day-time) job. They completed a specially constructed questionnaire, which included several measures of health and well being, and in which they were asked to reminisce about how they had felt while still a shiftworker. These reminiscence scores were compared to their current perception of how they were. The results clearly indicated that individuals in retrospect perceive their situation as being worse than they realised at the time. This effect was most marked for scores on the General Health Questionnaire and Chronic Fatigue scale. The results of this study draw attention to a potential confounding in much of the shiftwork literature which demands further, more detailed, investigation.

publication date

  • January 1993