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Keywords:

  • mental fatigue;
  • nursing;
  • physical fatigue;
  • work demands;
  • work system design

Aims

To identify fatiguing tasks and develop a model of sources of fatigue in nursing work.

Background

Research has identified multiple factors contributing to occupational fatigue; however, comprehensive consideration of diverse factors identified by nurses as contributing to fatigue in nursing work systems is lacking.

Methods

Content and frequency analyses were performed on previously unpublished data from an online survey of registered nurses. Responses from 100 registered nurses to questions related to the most fatiguing tasks in their work and factors that cause those tasks to be most fatiguing were analysed.

Results

Physically demanding patient care tasks, and organisation, management and logistics tasks, respectively, were listed as the most frequent physically and mentally fatiguing. Time and multitasking demands were listed frequently as sources of both fatigue dimensions.

Conclusions

Registered nurses reported working in environments that include physically and mentally fatiguing tasks. They identified factors related to work content demands, including physical and mental task demands as well as time and multitasking demands, as most frequently contributing to fatigue.

Implications for nursing management

This work and our conceptual model of sources of fatigue provide a framework to support nurses, nursing managers and administrators to develop strategies to reduce fatigue among RNs.