Impacts of Long Working Hours on Nurses’ Lives

A proper healthcare system is crucial for every country and all its citizens as their health and well-being depend on the quality of hospitals and medical institutions. Unfortunately, while caring about the patients, it is usual to forget about the medical staff, and especially nurses. As there is a huge number of people who need medical help and apply for it, nurses have to face two problems: short-staffing and high workload. Hence, nurses need to work a lot, and the more hours they spend with patients, the more stress, fatigue, and medical errors they have to deal with.

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There are two articles, “Negative Impacts of Long Working Hours: A Comparative Study Among Nurses” and “One-Year Trial of 12-Hour Shifts in a Non-Intensive Care Unit and an Intensive Care Unit in a Public Hospital: A Qualitative Study of 24 Nurses’ Experiences” that study the impact of long working hours on nurses’ lives. The purpose of this paper is to provide the summaries of two studies and analyze and compare the way they describe the connection between nurses’ stress and overworking.

These articles will be used to answer the question of whether the number of working hours affects the amount of stress nurses face. Also, they will help to understand if implementing strategies with the objective of controlling stress may reduce nurses’ errors and improve patients’ outcomes.

The first article, “Negative Impacts of Long Working Hours: A Comparative Study Among Nurses,” was written by Dr. Rajan in 2017. The study took place in India, and its purposes were to understand and differentiate the “perception of nurses towards factors associated with long working hours” and “various negative impacts of long working hours on health, family and social life” (Rajan, 2017, p. 61). Additionally, the article offers some suggestions to overcome the negative impacts of long working shifts.

The second article was written by Norwegian scientists Ose, Tjønnås, Kaspersen, and Færevik in 2019. It is called “One-Year Trial of 12-Hour Shifts in a Non-Intensive Care Unit and an Intensive Care Unit in a Public Hospital: A Qualitative Study of 24 Nurses’ Experiences.” The purpose of the article is to examine the experience of those nurses who worked twelve-hour shifts for one year in a non-intensive and intensive care unit in a public hospital. Both of these articles are helpful for answering the stated question as they analyze the same issue concerning nurses who work over twelve hours and try to find proper ways to solve this problem. To answer the question and analyze the studies, it is important to discuss the method used in each article, their key findings, and the anticipated outcomes of the issue.

Method of Study

Both articles’ purposes are almost the same, although different methods of study are used. In his article, Rajan chose a descriptive quantitative research approach; the study sampled one hundred and twenty nurses, sixty from single-speciality and sixty from multi-speciality hospitals, where “The primary data were collected from them using self-made questionnaire” (Rajan, 2017, p. 62). According to the article, they “had been made based on Likert’s five points scale namely ‘Strongly agree, Agree, No opinion, Disagree and strongly disagree.’” There were three sections; the first was about the profile of the respondents.

The second described the way respondents faced the factors that were related to long working hours. The third spoke about what the nurses thought about the negative effects of long working hours on their health and family and social life. The advantage of this method is that the respondents have time to analyze their feelings and thoughts and are able to be honest in their answers. The drawback is that there was also some secondary data collected from projects, journals, and websites, but no one can guarantee it was reliable information.

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In the second article, the interview is the primary method of the analysis. The researchers “systematically recorded the experiences of twenty-four nurses’ working twelve-hour shifts, sixteen in the medical unit and eight in the ICU for one year” (Ose et al., 2019, p. 1). All the nurses were interviewed thrice: before the trial period, during, and at the end of it. The advantage of this method is that all the participants are being observed for a long period of time, and the researchers are able to get the most reliable data. The disadvantage, however, is that, during the trial period, some nurses quit, and some get their job, so it is hard to follow the changes.

Results of Study

The key finding of Rajan’s article was that nurses from both types of hospitals had the same perception towards the effects of long shifts. According to Rajan (2017), “nominal working hours, i.e., eight hours or six hours working, will make employees productive and let them concentrate balancing both family and work life by devoting adequate time for family and social life” (p. 61). However, if a nurse is working longer hours, it will make him or her stressed out, less productive, dissatisfied with the work, and distracted, which will later affect the health and the safety of the patients.

The key finding of the second article is that each participant’s experience was individual depending on effects on his or her family, health consequences, and perceived the effects on patients. The nurses also had different health effects of working twelve-hour shifts. Some of them did not feel stressed or tired; it was no difference compared with working eight-hour shifts. Although they admitted that “they needed the day off after the work weekend to recover” (Ose et al., 2019, p. 6), other nurses stated that they had various negative effects when working longer shifts.

Outcomes Comparison

The anticipated outcomes for the stated question are that ignoring difficult situations may worsen the stress a nurse is experiencing. There is a correlation between working more than twelve hours per day and the errors a nurse makes. The outcome of Rajan’s research shows the connection of the effect of working hours on the nurses’ performance in hospitals. Namely, “Long shifts not only affect physical, mental health, family and social life of employees but also affect patients’ safety and organization reputation” (Rajan, 2017, p. 64).

The outcome of the second research revealed the difference in experiences of nurses who were working twelve-hour shifts. It is evident that the outcomes for the stated question and those of Rajan’s research are almost the same as they state the correlation between the number of working hours and nurses’ stress and mistakes. However, the outcome of the second article is different as it tells about the variety in nurses’ experiences.


To draw a conclusion, one may say that nursing is about caring and helping. A good doctor and nurse are ready to sacrifice their own time, health, and interests in order to save the life of a person they usually do not even know. Nursing is about social demands, interpersonal relationships, and high levels of accountability that produce the team that is more vulnerable to work pressure. Nurses have to spend many working hours observing the patient’s suffering; they need to be a connection between the doctor, the affected person, and his or her family. That is why it is crucial to make nurses’ shifts shorter so that it could help to reduce their stress and the number of their mistakes.


Ose, S. O., Tjønnås, M., Kaspersen, S., & Færevik, H. (2019). One-year trial of 12-hour shifts in a non-intensive care unit and an intensive care unit in a public hospital: A qualitative study of 24 nurses’ experiences. BMJ Open, 9(7), e024292. Web.

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Rajan, D. (2017). Negative impacts of long working hours: A comparative study among nurses. MOJ Applied Bionics and Biomechanics, 1(2), 00010. Web.

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