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Fitness for Duty: A 3-Minute Version of the Psychomotor Vigilance Test Predicts Fatigue-Related Declines in Luggage-Screening Performance

Basner, Mathias MD, PhD, MSc; Rubinstein, Joshua PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 10 - p 1146–1154
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822b8356
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the ability of a 3-minute Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) to predict fatigue-related performance decrements on a simulated luggage-screening task (SLST).

Methods: Thirty-six healthy nonprofessional subjects (mean age = 30.8 years, 20 women) participated in a 4-day laboratory protocol including a 34-hour period of total sleep deprivation with PVT and SLST testing every 2 hours.

Results: Eleven and 20 lapses (355-ms threshold) on the PVT optimally divided SLST performance into high-, medium-, and low-performance bouts with significantly decreasing threat detection performance A′. Assignment to the different SLST performance groups replicated homeostatic and circadian patterns during total sleep deprivation.

Conclusions: The 3-minute PVT was able to predict performance on a simulated luggage-screening task. Fitness-for-duty feasibility should now be tested in professional screeners and operational environments.

From the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology (Dr Basner), Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; and Human Factors Program (Dr Rubinstein), Transportation Security Laboratory, Science and Technology Directorate, US Department of Homeland Security, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Address correspondence to: Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, 1013 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine