Work patterns and parenting: working non-day shifts may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms and relationship conflict

A 2007 study in the USA examined how the work hours, work schedules, and role overload of working - class couples might be related to the occurrence of depressive symptoms and relationship conflict as couples move into becoming parents.

The study interviewed 132 dual-earner couples 5 times across the transition to parenthood.

Statistical analyses revealed that…

  • working evening or night shifts, as opposed to day shifts, was related to higher levels of depressive symptoms
  • for mothers only, working rotating shifts predicted relationship conflict
  • increases in role overload were related to the emergence of both depression and conflict
  • but working a non-day shift explained variance in depression and conflict above and beyond the mere effect of role overload.

These results suggest that for new parents, working non-day shifts may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms and relationship conflict. This might be a useful piece of information to keep in mind when working with PREPARE/ENRICH with young couples soon intending to have a child.

Reference: Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Abbie E. Goldberg, Courtney P. Pierce, Aline G. Sayer (2007): Shift Work, Role Overload, and the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, (1), 123–138.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

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