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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

Work, eat and sleep: towards a healthy ageing at work program offshore

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Vanessa Riethmeister, Sandra Brouwer, Jac van der Klink, Ute Bültmann
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-016-2807-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

This research was supported and funded by the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij B.V. (NAM) and Shell. The PI’ unpublished Master thesis served as a base for this article. When conducting her Master thesis, the PI had an internship agreement with NAM and is now working at NAM. No conflict of interest applies.

Author’ contributions

The PI carried out and analysed the qualitative and quantitative studies, and drafted the manuscript. UB, SB and JvdK conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Health management tools need to be developed to foster healthy ageing at work and sustain employability of ageing work-forces. The objectives of this study were to 1) perform a needs assessment to identify the needs of offshore workers in the Dutch Continental Shelf with regard to healthy ageing at work and 2) to define suitable program objectives for a future healthy ageing at work program in the offshore working population.


A mixed methods design was used applying an intervention mapping procedure. Qualitative data were gathered in N = 19 semi-structured interviews and six focus-group sessions (N = 49). Qualitative data were used to develop a questionnaire, which was administered among N = 450 offshore workers. Subgroup analyses were performed to investigate age-related differences relating to health status and work-related factors.


The importance of good working environments, food, as well as sleep/fatigue management was identified by the qualitative data analysis. A total of 260 offshore workers completed the questionnaire. Significant differences in work ability were found between offshore workers aged <45 and 45–54 years (mean 8.63 vs. 8.19; p = 0.005) and offshore workers aged <45 and >55 years (mean 8.63 vs. 8.22; p = 0.028). Offshore workers had a high BMI (M = 27.06, SD = 3.67), with 46 % classified as overweight (BMI 25–30) and 21 % classified as obese (BMI >30). A significant difference in BMI was found between offshore workers aged <45 and ≥55 years (mean 26.3 vs. 28.6; p <0.001). In total, 73 % of offshore workers reported prolonged fatigue. A significant difference in fatigue scores was found between offshore workers aged <45 and ≥55 years (mean 36.0 vs. 37.6; p = 0.024). Further, a “dip” was reported by 41 % of offshore workers. Dips were mainly experienced at day 10 or 11 (60 %), with 45 % experiencing the dip both as physical and mental fatigue, whereas 39 % experienced the dip as only mental fatigue.


Both qualitative and quantitative analyses identified work, food and sleep/fatigue management as most important program objectives for a healthy ageing at work and sustainable employability program offshore. Future studies should investigate possible causes of dip occurrences and high fatigue scores to identify suitable interventions.
Additional file 1: Self-constructed questionnaire items. This table lists all the self-constructed questions we asked offshore workers in the questionnaire. (PDF 166 kb)
Additional file 2: Interview participant characteristics. This table lists the interviewee characteristics. (PDF 16 kb)
Additional file 3: Focus-group (FG) participant characteristics. This table lists the focus-group participant characteristics. (PDF 157 kb)
Additional file 4: Chronic diseases. This table lists the amount of reported chronic health conditions of the sample. (PDF 168 kb)
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