Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Finnish Study Finds that Long Work Hours can Cause Rapid Mental Decline

A new study from the the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has found that longer work hours is leading to widespread decline in cognitive functions among employees working overtime hours. The study, "Long working hours and cognitive function: the Whitehall II study" was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study was performed on over 2,000 British civil servants and found disturbing losses of mental abilities among those working upwards of 40 hours per week.

2214 middle-aged British civil servants participated in the present study which was a part of the Whitehall II study. They took five different cognitive tests in 1997—99 and again in 2002—04. When compared with employees with normal working hours (35-40 per week), employees working very long hours (> 55 hours per week) and those with an average length of working week (41—55 hours) performed worse in a vocabulary test already at the baseline study. At follow-up, both over-time groups performed again worse in a vocabulary test and also had a declined test score in a cognitive reasoning test.

This, of course, was in the UK. Can you imagine the loss of cognitive skills among workers in countries without adequate overtime legislation and enforcement?

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