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Ill-lighting syndrome: prevalence in shift-work personnel in the anaesthesiology and intensive care department of three Italian hospitals

Ilaria Morghen1*, Maria Cristina Turola2, Elena Forini3, Piero Di Pasquale4, Paolo Zanatta5 and Teresa Matarazzo6

Author Affiliations

1 Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Department, S. Anna University Hospital, C.so Giovecca 203, 44100, Ferrara, Italy

2 Psychiatry Department, S. Anna University Hospital, C.so Giovecca 203, 44100, Ferrara, Italy

3 Health Statistics Service, S. Anna University Hospital, C.so Giovecca 203, 44100, Ferrara, Italy

4 Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Department, Rovigo Hospital, Viale 3 Martiri, 140, 45100, Rovigo, Italy

5 Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Department, Treviso Regional Hospital, Viale Vittorio Veneto, 18, 31100, Treviso, Italy

6 Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Department, S. Anna University Hospital, C.so Giovecca 203, 44100, Ferrara, Italy

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Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2009, 4:6  doi:10.1186/1745-6673-4-6

Published: 27 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Light is one of the most important factors in our interaction with the environment; it is indispensable to visual function and neuroendocrine regulation, and is essential to our emotional perception and evaluation of the environment. Previous studies have focussed on the effects of prolonged anomalous exposure to artificial light and, in the field of work-related illness. Studies have been carried out on shift-work personnel, who are obliged to experience alterations in the physiological alternation of day and night, with anomalous exposure to light stimuli in hours normally reserved for sleep. In order to identify any signs and symptoms of the so-called ill-lighting syndrome, we carried out a study on a sample of anaesthesiologists and nurses employed in the operating theatres and Intensive Care Departments of three Italian hospitals. We measured the subjective emotional discomfort (stress) experienced by these subjects, and its correlation with environmental discomfort factors, in particular the level of lighting, in their workplace.

Methods

We used a questionnaire developed by the Scandinavian teams who investigated Sick-Building Syndrome, that was self-administered on one day in the environments where the degree of illumination was measured according to UNIEN12464-1 regulations.

Results

Upon comparison of the types of exposure with the horizontal luminance values (lux) measured (< 700 lux, between 1000–1500 lux, > 1500 lux) and the degree of stress reported, (Intensive Care: mean stress = 55.8%, high stress = 34.6%; Operating Theatres: mean stress = 51.5%, high stress = 33.8%), it can be observed that the percentage of high stress was reduced as the exposure to luminance was increased, although this finding was not statistically significant.

Conclusion

We cannot share other authors' enthusiasm regarding the effects on workers well-being correlated to the use of fluorescent lighting. The stress level of our workers was found to be more heavily influenced by their familial and working conditions, irrespective of the ambient light stimulus.