Arne Johan Ulven, Knut Arve Omdal, Henrik Herlov-Nielsen, Agot Irgens, E...

Start2007Arne Johan Ulven, Knut Arve...


To examine the psycho-social impact of work schedules (absence from home) on the families of a subgroup of Norwegian seafarers as reported by their wives (sea wives). Their husbands worked 4-6 weeks on and 4-6 weeks off Norwegian-registered multipurpose vessels (MPV) supporting the off-shore oil industry.


Questionnaires addressing demographic characteristics, marital satisfaction, social support, subjective health and psychological well-being were distributed to sea wives and controls .The response rate was 57% (192/336) for sea wives and 39% (45/114) for controls


There was no difference in demographic characteristics between sea wives and controls except that the sea wives were younger (p<0.01). No differences between sea wives and controls were found with regard to the quality of marital relationships, the subjective evaluation of own health, or mental well-being. Two percent of sea wives and controls had scores suggesting severe depression. In some respects, the sea wives had less social support than the controls. However, the majority of sea wives were content with their families’ life style.


The MPV seafarers’ absence from home in a 4 weeks on and 4 weeks off (or a 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off) rotation schedule appears to be well tolerated by their families. However, being alone for weeks at the time may exaggerate acute and chronic shore-side problems, and some sea wives may feel a need for more social support during their husbands’ absence.

1Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine; Haukeland University Hospital, 5021 Bergen Norway; 2Norwegian Maritime Health Service (Norsk Rederihelsetjeneste), Langevåg, 5443 Bømlo, Norway; 3Department of Occupational Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, 5021 Bergen, Norway; 4Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway; 5Department of Surgery, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, 0027 Oslo, Norway

Corresponding address:
Professor Eilif Dahl, MD, MHA, PhD,
Department of Surgery, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, 0027 Oslo, Norway;
phone: (+47) 23 07 00 00; fax: (+47) 22 56 31 12;