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Australia’s on-call emergency workers can never fully relax – survey delves into hidden issues

Australia’s on-call emergency workers can never fully relax – survey delves into hidden issues

Published:10 August 2017

Dr Sarah Jay, a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CQUniversity, is aiming to provide a comprehensive description of Australian on-call workers, and to determine how on-call work impacts their individual health and well-being.

They are always at the ready even if they may not be called on.

Little is known about whether the constant state of readiness of Australia’s on-call emergency workers has short-term or longer-term health ramifications.

Now, however, the team at CQUniversity’s Adelaide-based Appleton Institute is keen to explore these factors as part of their wider program of studies into sleep, stress, lifestyle patterns and health.

“Whether they are volunteers or salaried employees, on-call emergency workers tend to avoid going out and may be constantly focused on whether the phone will ring, even when they are trying to sleep,” says Dr Sarah Jay, a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CQUniversity.

“How does this affect their sleep health, their stress and their lifestyle choices? It’s an area of interest that has not previously been researched fully.”

Dr Jay says on-call work is fast becoming commonplace in many organisations to manage unpredictable, 24-hour service demands.

“Under these arrangements, workers are usually ‘on-call’ for a defined period during which they must be available to respond (often immediately) whether they are at work, engaged in social or domestic activities, or asleep.

“While there are many benefits to on-call working arrangements, such as cost-efficiency and flexibility, past research demonstrated negative impacts on individuals’ well-being.

“In particular, sleep and stress have been shown to be negatively impacted and that there may be gender differences in workers’ experience of on-call.

“However, there has been limited research conducted in Australia regarding the demographic profile of on-call workers across professions, and how this impacts on individual well-being in respect to personal stress, leisure time activity and sleep differences between certain groups; in particular gender differences.

“The aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive description of Australian on-call workers, and determine how on-call work impacts individual health and well-being.”

On-call emergency workers across all sectors are encouraged to complete a new CQUni research survey via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CKMF9RH