Shift work disorder and the prevalence of help seeking behaviors for sleep concerns in Australia: A descriptive study

Brandon W.J. Brown, Meagan E. Crowther, Sarah L. Appleton, Yohannes Adama Melaku, Robert J. Adams, Amy C. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Shift work disorder (SWD) is a circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder, defined by symptoms of insomnia and excessive levels of sleepiness resulting from work that occurs during non-standard hours. Sleep problems are common in shift workers, yet our understanding of help seeking behaviours for sleep in shift workers is limited. The primary aim of this study was to examine the help seeking behaviours of Australian workers who meet criteria for SWD. Of the 448 (46% of sample, n = 964 total) Australian workers reporting non-standard work hours, 10.5% (n = 41) met the criteria for probable shift work disorder (pSWD). Non-standard workers with pSWD did not seek help for sleep problems at higher rates than workers without SWD. Of the small proportion of workers with pSWD who sought help, general practitioners were the most common healthcare professionals for sleep problems. Self-management was common in workers with pSWD, with a high self-reported prevalence of alcohol use (31.7%) as a sleep management strategy, and caffeine consumption (76.9%) as a sleepiness management strategy. The majority of individuals with pSWD reported the mentality of ‘accept it and keep going’ as a sleepiness management strategy, highlighting a potential barrier to help seeking behaviour in workers with pSWD. These findings provide novel insight into the help seeking behaviours of those with pSWD. There is a need for further research to understand why individuals at risk for SWD are not actively seeking help, and to develop health promotion and intervention strategies to improve help seeking when needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-724
Number of pages11
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number5
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • help seeking behaviour
  • primary care
  • Shift work schedule
  • shift work sleep disorders
  • sleep disorder


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