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Caregiver Fatigue: Implications for Patient and Staff Safety, Part 1

Blouin, Ann Scott PhD, RN, FACHE; Smith-Miller, Cheryl A. PhD, RN-BC; Harden, Jacqueline MHA, MBA, RN, NE-BC; Li, Yin BM, RN

Journal of Nursing Administration: June 2016 - Volume 46 - Issue 6 - p 329–335
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000353

OBJECTIVE: This article describes the profound impact of fatigue and the process by which 1 academic medical center assessed fatigue levels, and associated factors, among nursing personnel in their effort to develop a comprehensive fatigue management program.

BACKGROUND: To adequately perform amid high patient acuity and in today’s fast paced healthcare environment, nurses must be attentive and react quickly and appropriately with clear judgment and reasoning—abilities that can be greatly impaired by fatigue. Nursing leaders are instrumental in systematically addressing work-related fatigue and implementing processes designed to prevent fatigue and overwork; however, baseline measures are necessary if the efficacy of these initiatives is to be assessed.

METHODS: The 15-item Occupational Fatigue Exhaustion/Recovery scale was used to assess current fatigue levels among nursing staff at a university medical center. Demographic and schedule-related questions were used to examine the characteristics of the population and identify any associated factors.

RESULTS: Work-related fatigue is prevalent among all nursing staff, but differences were noted based on the respondent’s position, age, and typical work shift.

CONCLUSIONS: Nursing administrators and shared governance councils can address the factors contributing to work-related fatigue and negatively impacting nursing personnel’s ability to rest and recuperate. Nurse leader involvement is needed to develop comprehensive fatigue reduction strategies.

Author Affiliations: Executive Vice President (Dr Blouin), Customer Relations, The Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois; Nurse Researcher (Dr Smith-Miller), Director, Inpatient Heart & Vascular Services (Ms Harden), University of North Carolina Medical Center, Chapel Hill; Adjunct Faculty (Dr Smith-Miller), Doctoral Student (Ms Li), Department of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Blouin, The Joint Commission, 1 Renaissance Boulevard, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 (

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