Work-related self-assessed fatigue and recovery among nurses
Adequate recovery opportunities are crucial for preventing long-term health effects of acute load reactions in response to stressful work. However, little is known about the time course of recovery from work during non-working days. Thus, the present study assessed recovery from two consecutive 12-hours day shifts during a period of three rest days among nurses.
In total, 48 nurses (89.6% females) working in three public Austrian nursing homes completed 5-day self-reporting diaries prior to a work phase consisting of two consecutive 12-hours day shifts followed by three consecutive rest days. Therefore, morning and evening fatigue, distress, vigor and sleep were self-assessed by standardized questionnaires. We analyzed the data using multivariate analysis of variance for repeated measures.
Study participants experienced worse well-being and a greater decline in well-being on working days compared to rest days. Well-being increased from rest day 1 to rest day 2 in fatigue, vigor and distress. Rest day 2 to rest day 3 showed a further improvement in fatigue and vigor.
Understanding the concepts of allostatic load, need for recovery and fatigue is essential to develop personalized working schedules. The results suggest that at least three rest days are necessary for full recovery after two consecutive 12-hours day shifts. Thus, adequate time for recovery enables nurses to maintain caring attitudes with patients, thus contributing to patient safety.