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Chronic Disease Risks From Exposure to Long-Hour Work Schedules Over a 32-Year Period

Dembe, Allard E. ScD; Yao, Xiaoxi PhD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 9 - p 861–867
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000810

Objectives: This study aims at evaluating the chronic disease risk related to prolonged work in long-hour schedules for eight major chronic diseases: heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic lung disease, asthma, chronic depression, and hypertension.

Methods: The study used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 covering 32 years of job history (1978 to 2009) for 7492 respondents. Logistic regression analyses were performed to test the relationship between average weekly work hours, and the reported prevalence of those conditions for each individual.

Results: Regularly working long hours over 32 years was significantly associated with elevated risks of heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. The observed risk was much larger among women than among men.

Conclusions: Working long-hour schedules over many years increases the risk for some specific chronic diseases, especially for women.

Center for HOPES, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus (Dr Dembe); and the Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (Dr Yao).

Address correspondence to: Allard E. Dembe, ScD, Professor of Public Health, The Ohio State University, 1841 Neil Avenue, Room 283, Columbus, OH 43210 (

Authors Dembe and Yao have no other relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Funding for this study was provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Grant number: R21-OH010323).

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine