An evaluation of the main effects of shift work and their impacts as viewed by New Zealand medical radiation technologists

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Heal, Kara
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Master of Health Science (Medical Radiation Technology)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Henwood, Suzanne
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
shift work
medical radiation technologists
working conditions
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Heal, K. (2010). An evaluation of the main effects of shift work and their impacts as viewed by New Zealand medical radiation technologists. A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters of Health Science (Medical Radiation Technology), Unitec New Zealand.
OBJECTIVES: 1. to investigate what MRTs view as being the main effects of shift work 2. to investigate the impact of the identified effects 3. to determine whether the expectations of shift work align with the perceived reality of performing shift work 4. to propose recommendations as to the management of those effects identified by MRTs as having the most profound impact on them. This thesis investigated the impact of shift work as viewed by New Zealand Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs). The topic was chosen because during my career as an MRT I have encountered all derivations of shift work, but was never informed of the associated effects or their potential impact. Therefore this study investigates what MRTs considered the main effects to be, while also exploring the perceived impact they have in order to propose recommendations as to the management of any effects and build a foundation of knowledge and information for all MRTs in New Zealand. A large proportion of MRTs in New Zealand undertake shift work and minimal literature was found specific to this cohort with respect to their view of it, how they are impacted by the associated effects and other issues related to it. Notwithstanding the financial and service capability advantages to the departments in moving to this system, no-one to my knowledge has explored the effect this transition has had on the MRTs, potentially allowing substandard practices of a personal or professional nature to go unnoticed (Peate, 2007). The thesis used a case study as the research method informed through an interpretive paradigm, with qualitative data gathered from a number of MRT participants throughout NZ via in-depth interviews and questionnaires and also through data collected by questionnaires from Charge MRTs. The key findings included the fact that the perception of shift work did not align with the actual reality. Many advantages associated with shift work were identified, such as variation of work, flexibility, free time during the day, remuneration and increased family and social time. The disadvantages identified included altered sleep patterns, a negative impact on health, decreased family and social opportunities, performance impairment and detrimental professional effects. Some MRTs felt that the thought of shift work was worse than actually working the shift, while most found that their attitude towards shift work had a huge impact on how they coped with it. Society’s perception and treatment of shift workers had an impact, however most MRTs see themselves performing shift work in the longer term.
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