Nursing News: Life Balance Alert! Maryland Study Finds 55% of Female Nurses Obese

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, June 26th, 2012

We’re in a life balance crisis within the nursing profession. Researchers at the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing found 55% of the 2,103 female nurses they surveyed were obese. The nurses cited job stress and the effect on sleep of long irregular work hours as the cause. Long work hours and shift work adversely affect quantity and quality of sleep, which often interferes with adherence to healthy behavior and increases obesity.

nurse life balance The study, which measured obesity using estimates of body mass index, found that nursing schedules affected not only the health of the nurses but the quality of patient care.

To combat the high obesity rate among nurses, Kihye Han, the author of the study, proposed more education on good sleep habits, and better strategies for adapting work schedules. She also called for napping at work to curb sleep deprivation, reduce fatigue and increase energy.

The 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses found that more than 40 percent of nurses who left nursing said they did so because of irregular and long hours, indicating that better scheduling could help nurse retention.  Han also proposed making healthy food more available and allowing enough time to consume it.

The study, published in The Journal of Nursing Administration, is part of a series of investigations that show long work hours and shift-work affects the health of nurses that can also lead to poor outcomes for patients.

To learn more ways that nurses can care for themselves while caring for others, improve their health, life balance and patient outcomes, contact me at

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

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