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wilson j.l. (2002) Journal of Nursing Management10,– The impact of shift patterns on healthcare professionalsAim To compile a literature review of studies on shift work which have relevance to the management of health services personnel.In the National Health Service it has always been necessary for certain areas, for example, in-patient services, to provide 24-hour service and hence shift work has been very much a feature of the organization. There is much anecdotal evidence of staff suffering from adverse physical, psychological and social problems that are attributed to the shift patterns they work in.The literature review includes studies which cite evidence of the benefits or not for the differing lengths of shifts and shift rotation, particularly in relation to circadian rhythms. The literature reviewed highlighted the consequences of shift work as it affects sleep, eating and social patterns, and physical and mental health.Findings There are some compensatory behaviours to help staff better cope with working shifts and the research base for these is reviewed.The paper concludes with recommendations to inform decision-making by nurse managers responsible for the completion of duty rotas in health service provision.