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Mental health and psychological wellbeing of maritime personnel: a systematic review

Publication date: 

30 May 2022


BMC Psychology volume 10, Article number: 139 (2022)


Brooks SK and Greenberg N

Publication type: 



Abstract Background Seafaring has frequently been reported to be a ‘risky occupation’ in terms of both physical and mental health. Individuals working in seafaring professions are exposed to various stressors in the workplace, including social isolation, exposure to poor physical conditions and long work hours. This systematic review aimed to update previous reviews by collating recent literature (published between 2012 and 2021) on the factors associated with mental health and wellbeing in seafaring personnel. Methods Four electronic databases were searched in April 2021 for primary peer-reviewed studies on factors associated with the mental health and psychological wellbeing of seafarers or interventions to improve the wellbeing of seafarers, published in English in or after the year 2012. Thematic analysis was used to synthesise the data and standardised measures of quality appraisal were used to assess risk of bias. Results Sixty-three studies were reviewed. Risk factors for poor mental health among seafarers appear to be younger age; being single; poor physical health; exposure to noise/vibration; feeling unsafe; high job demands; long working hours; night/irregular shifts; poor sleep; poor team cohesion; poor perception of management; poor social support; lack of autonomy; scheduling uncertainties; long duration at sea; and over-commitment. Conclusions There are numerous steps that maritime managers could take to improve the wellbeing of their personnel, including increased monitoring of the potential for poor mental health in their staff, increasing crew numbers and provision of education and support.