We still need the calendar week, even if it confuses us. Work and social organisation depend on us all using the same week. People’s behaviour and mood have been tracked across the week and we now have good data to suggest that the day of the week drives some of these effects.
One thing researchers have found is that Blue Monday really exists. Heart attack risk is higher, the suicide rate is higher, the reported mood is lower, and stock returns are lower on Mondays. These are just some of the important issues for health and economics that are worse on a Monday. Especially positive outcomes on Fridays have also been seen, but not all studies have found these. In our research, we saw that medical appointments on Mondays were much more likely to be missed than appointments on Fridays.
Some of this research helps highlight where efficiency savings could be made in practical situations. Our work on missed appointments, for example, suggested that people would miss fewer appointments if more were made available at the end of a week. Unfortunately, hospitals generally make most appointments at the beginning of the week, when missed appointments are more common. Our research shows why simply changing the pattern of scheduling could save money and improve people’s health.
We are now hoping to find out what causes these changes in behaviour across the week. We need to know about this for very practical reasons, but we also hope it can help other researchers control for weekday effects in their studies.