Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24 suppl 3:146-150    pdf

Emotional impact of shift work on the children of shift workers

by Barton J, Aldridge J, Smith P

Objectives This study compared the emotional state of children of shift and day working fathers.

Methods One hundred and ninety children (8 to 11 years of age) took part in the study. Ninety-one of them came from "shift working" homes, and 99 came from "day working" homes. Each child completed 2 questionnaires, The Harter Self-Perception Questionnaire and the Children's Depression Inventory.

Results The daughters of shift working fathers reported a significantly poorer perception of their ability in school-related activities and significantly greater discrepancies between their perceived overall level of competence and their ideal level of competence. In addition, more depressive symptomatology and a lower level of self-esteem were also found for the daughters of shift working fathers in comparison with the daughters of day working fathers. No such effects were found for the sons of shift working fathers.

Conclusion Parental shift working may be experienced as stressful within the family, and this stress may affect the emotional state of the child. However, the nature of expression of these emotional difficulties may vary according to the gender of the child. Further research is needed.