Emily Mize


June 2012

Document Type


Degree Name



Oregon Health & Science University


The work of nurses usually involves shiftwork and may include extended work hours which can disrupt the quality of sleep and circadian rhythm contributing to fatigue. Acute fatigue, a normal physical and physiological response to over exertion, may be relieved by adequate intershift recovery; however, if intershift recovery is not adequate acute fatigue can progress to chronic or prolonged fatigue. The purpose of this study was to describe nurse fatigue across multiple dimensions, explore the relationship between fatigue and executive function, and to determine the unique contribution of fatigue to executive function after controlling for demographic characteristics, sleep quality, exercise and mental health. Major findings of this study were: 1) sleep quality, the duration of fatigue and the adequacy of intershift recovery have the strongest bivariate relationship to fatigue; 2) chronic fatigue and intershift recovery were significantly related to two of the five measures of EF, and acute fatigue was significantly related to one of the five measures of EF; 3) chronic fatigue and acute fatigue account for 5.5% of the variance in EF after controlling for selected variables and 4) approximiately 30% of the participants in this study demonstrated impaired EF as measured by the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. This was the first study to explore EF and more studies are needed to better understand the relationship between fatigue and EF in nurses, where the EF is critical to patient safety and optimal patient outcomes.




School of Nursing



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