Do shiftworkers take more prescribed medication?

Shiftworkers may be at greater risk of certain health problems. However, the picture is unclear, as many previous studies have relied on shiftworkers’ own accounts of their health status, which can be inaccurate. New research to be presented in the USA in September draws upon medication prescription records, which provide an objective and thus more accurate index of shiftworkers’ health.

Philip Tucker will give an invited seminar presentation at the 24th International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time, to be held 9-13th September 2019 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA. He will present the findings of two recent studies that looked at whether shiftworkers, or people working other ‘non-standard’ working time arrangements, are more likely to be prescribed medication for a range of diseases. These studies are unique in that they link data from large scale surveys of shiftworkers with national register data on medical prescriptions. Such register data is only available in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, where Dr. Tucker is visiting researcher. The findings have been published in two recent papers, the first examining rates of prescription of medications for cardiovascular-related diseases; selected as ‘the Editor’s Pick’ of the issue) and the second examining rates of prescription of antidepressants. Preliminary findings of a third paper (in preparation) will also be presented, looking at rate of prescription of sleep medication.