Effects of accumulating work shifts on performance-based fatigue using multiple strength measurements in day and night shift nurses and aides

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Human Factors






SAGE Publications

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Objective This study aimed to examine the effects of accumulating nursing work on maximal and rapid strength characteristics in female nurses and compare these effects in day versus night shift workers. Background Nurses exhibit among the highest nonfatal injury rates of all occupations, which may be a consequence of long, cumulative work shift schedules. Fatigue may accumulate across multiple shifts and lead to performance impairments, which in turn may be linked to injury risks. Method Thirty-seven nurses and aides performed isometric strength-based performance testing of three muscle groups, including the knee extensors, knee flexors, and wrist flexors (hand grip), as well as countermovement jumps, at baseline and following exposure to three 12-hour work shifts in a four-day period. Variables included peak torque (PT) and rate of torque development (RTD) from isometric strength testing and jump height and power output. Results The rigorous work period resulted in significant decreases (−7.2% to −19.2%) in a large majority (8/9) of the isometric strength-based measurements. No differences were noted for the day versus night shift workers except for the RTD at 200 millisecond variable, for which the night shift had greater work-induced decreases than the day shift workers. No changes were observed for jump height or power output. Conclusions A compressed nursing work schedule resulted in decreases in strength-based performance abilities, being indicative of performance fatigue. Application Compressed work schedules involving long shifts lead to functional declines in nurse performance capacities that may pose risks for both the nurse and patient quality of care. Fatigue management plans are needed to monitor and regulate increased levels of fatigue.

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