Web-Based Study of Shiftworkers (WeBS)


  • To assess the feasibility of using the web to recruit a diverse cohort of low-income shift workers for epidemiologic studies and to examine the relationship of shift work with lifestyle factors and symptoms of psychological and sleep disorders.


Participation in epidemiologic studies has declined in recent decades. Paper-and-pencil questionnaires and telephone interviews have been the longstanding modes of data collection, but use of these methods for recruitment and follow-up can be burdensome. Given these factors, investigators seek more time and cost efficient ways of collecting high-quality epidemiologic data. One method that has been explored, with varying degrees of success, is web-based data collection. Yet, despite widespread use of the Internet—currently over 75% of the US population uses the Internet—few studies published in leading medical and epidemiologic journals have used the web as a mode of data collection. Some major advantages of web-based questionnaires (WBQ) are that they can allow investigators cost-effectively access large and diverse groups of potential respondents, and it can save data entry time and reduce human error as responses are returned more swiftly and already in digital format. Conversely, concerns exist about the reliability and validity of responses received, privacy, confidentiality and safety of information given over the web, and disparities in Internet access and the inadvertent exclusion or under-representation of populations with limited Internet access. In the US, there are disparities in Internet usage. A recent report by the Pew Research Center that examined Internet usage among a sample of 2252 US adults suggests that although rates of Internet use between men and women are relatively similar (85% vs. 84%), rates vary across racial and ethnic groups with only 76% of Hispanic adults using the internet compared to 86% of non-Hispanic white adults and 85% of non-Hispanic black adults. 96% of adults with at least a college degree used the Internet compared to 59% of those without a high school diploma. Furthermore, 96% of adults from households earning ≥$75,000 used the Internet compared to 76% from households earning <$30,000. Despite disparities, these numbers suggest high Internet usage across racial and socio-economic groups. But to date, few epidemiologic studies have used web-based methods among low-income and minority populations.

Shift work
Shift work, i.e., work outside the daytime 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., is a part of the work life of millions of Americans. A broad body of literature has documented associations of participation in shift work with adverse health including cardio-metabolic diseases and negative psychological health. To the best of our knowledge, no epidemiologic studies have examined the feasibility of conducting web-based studies among low-income shift workers.

Study Design and Procedures

A web-based cross-sectional study on socio-demographic, lifestyle, and psychosocial factors related with low-income shiftwork.

Study Team

Dr. Michelle Williams, Principal Investigator
Dr. Bizu Gelaye, Co-Investigator
Ms. Adaeze Wosu, Study Coordinator
Qualtrics, Study platform host and distributor