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Understanding the relationship of long working hours with health status and health-related behaviours


Background: The objectives of this study are to identify family and job characteristics associated with long work hours, to analyse the relationship between long work hours and several health indicators, and to examine whether gender differences for both objectives exist.

Methods: The sample was composed of all salaried workers aged 16–64 years (3950 men and 3153 women) interviewed in the 2006 Catalonian Health Survey. Weekly work hours were categorised as less than 30 h (part-time), 30–40 (reference category), 41–50 and 51–60 h. Multiple logistic regression models separated by sex were fitted.

Results: Factors associated with long working hours differed by gender. Among men, extended work hours were related with being married or cohabiting and with being separated or divorced. In men, working 51–60 h a week was consistently associated with poor mental health status (aOR 2.06, 95% CI 1.31 to 3.24), self-reported hypertension (aOR 1.60, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.29), job dissatisfaction (aOR 2.05, 95% CI 1.49 to 2.82), smoking (aOR 1.33, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.72), shortage of sleep (aOR 1.42, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.85) and no leisure-time physical activity (aOR 2.43, 95% CI 1.64 to 3.60). Moreover, a gradient from standard working hours to 51–60 h a week was found for these six outcomes. Among women it was only related to smoking and to shortage of sleep.

Conclusion: The association of overtime with different health indicators among men could be explained by their role as the family breadwinner: in situations of family financial stress men work overtime in order to increase the income and/or accept poor working conditions for fear of job loss, one of them being long working hours.

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