14 Jan Excess Working Hours Linked To Higher Alcohol Use
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Professor Virtanen: Risky alcohol use is common among working populations but the contribution of work-related factors such as long working hours has rarely been studied. In the present study we performed the first systematic analysis on published studies regarding long working hours and risky alcohol use and added unpublished individual participant data to the analyses. Altogether 61 studies were included in the cross sectional analysis and 20 studies in the prospective analysis. The pooled cross sectional analysis showed 11% higher alcohol use associated with long working hours. In the prospective analysis we found that working 49-54 hours a week was associated with a 13% increase in the probability of new-onset risky alcohol use and working 55 hours or more with a 12% increased risk.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Professor Virtanen: Although the risk was not very high, some people might be vulnerable to cope with excess working hours with habits that are unhealthy, such as using alcohol above the recommended limits. It is always good to monitor own alcohol use, and our study suggests that it would be especially important at times of heavy workloads.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Professor Virtanen: Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours.