Fatigue and recovery in 12-hour dayshift hospital nurses

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The study investigated the status of acute fatigue, chronic fatigue and inter-shift recovery among 12-hour shift nurses and how they differed by organisational and individual factors.


While the 12-hour shift has been a widely accepted staffing solution in hospitals, the fatigue-recovery process in nurses working 12-hour shifts remains unclear.


A cross-sectional survey was completed by 130 full-time nurses working 12-hour dayshifts in three hospitals to assess the perceived levels of acute fatigue, chronic fatigue and inter-shift recovery, as well as their associations with selected organisational and individual factors.


Nurses experienced a moderate to high level of acute fatigue and moderate levels of chronic fatigue and inter-shift recovery. Fatigue and recovery levels differed by the interaction between hospital and unit after controlling for individual factors. Lack of regular exercise and older age were associated with higher acute fatigue.


An unhealthy fatigue-recovery process was found for nurses working a 12-hour shift during the day.

Implications for nursing management

There appears to be a need to establish fatigue intervention programmes for 12-hour shift nurses in hospitals. Hospital administration, unit managers and staff nurses need to collaborate to achieve a healthy fatigue-recovery balance when implementing 12-hour shifts.

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