School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care

Postgraduate research profiles


Nicholas Keown

Phone: (+61 4) 9722 0500


Start date

Mar 2004

Submission date

Aug 2009

Nicholas Keown

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Effects of Variant Shiftwork Patterns and Individual Differences on the Psychophysiological Health of Mine-Shiftworkers in the Goldfields Region of Western Australia


This thesis' contention is that the psychophysiological health of male mine-shiftworkers, in terms of psychological distress and chronic fatigue, is attributed to both work demands - including variants of shiftwork patterns - as well as individual differences including sleep quality, social and domestic needs, personality, and coping responses.

Findings indicated that continuous shiftwork patterns of rotating day and night shifts are associated with adverse levels of psychological distress and chronic fatigue among mining-shiftworkers. The adverse impact of the objective job stressor, shiftwork, on workers' health was evident from the interviews.

Problems associated with acute and chronic fatigue, stress, social support from long working hours and intensive shiftwork patterns were reported as concerning personal health issues for mine workers. The questionnaire survey indicated that 39 per cent of the total sample was detected as possible cases for minor psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. A similar percentage was reported for moderate or higher levels of chronic fatigue.

Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted to identify the strongest predictors of the health outcome measures. Negative affectivity significantly influenced the relationship between the reported outcomes.

Other individual difference factors, including sleep quality, support, and less useful coping responses modify the shiftwork-health relationship. The results further indicated a differentiated two-cluster typology between white- and blue-collar mine workers. White-collar workers experience the effects of permanent daywork more favourably and cope in substantially more positive ways than blue-collar shiftworkers.

Why my research is important

The findings illustrate a strong interrelationship between shiftwork and non-work factors, and the incongruency of satisfactory psychophysiological health at an individual level.

Furthermore, the results suggested that some employees are dealing with health issues imprudently; for many, continuous rotating shiftwork pose as a tremendous challenge to maintaining wellbeing.

This evidence highlights an opportunity to develop models of shiftwork health that aim to implement strategies and processes in risk management targeted at reducing shiftwork-related stress and fatigue among mine workers.


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