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Feasibility of application-based psychomotor vigilance testing to assess fatigue in doctors working night shifts and correlation with smartwatch assessed shift intensity.

OBJECTIVES: To assess: (1) the feasibility of novel data collection methods (wearable technology and an application-based psychomotor vigilance test (PVT)), (2) the impact of night shift working on fatigue, both objective and perceived, for doctors working night shifts in acute hospital specialties and (3) the effects of shift intensity and naps obtained on participant fatigue.

METHODS: We adopted an innovative, multimodal approach to data collection allowing assessment of objective and perceived measures of fatigue, in addition to markers of shift intensity. This comprised 5 min PVT for objective quantification of fatigue (via the validated, smartphone-based NASA PVT+ application), wearable electronic devices (Fitbit Versa2) for assessment of shift intensity (step counts and active minutes) and questionnaires to elicit perceptions of fatigue and shift intensity.

RESULTS: Data was collected from 25 participants for a total of 145 night shifts. Objective fatigue (assessed by PVT performance) was significantly increased post night shift, with a PVT mean reaction time 257 ms pre shift versus 283 ms post shift (p<0.0001). However, differences in PVT pre and post shift were not affected by night shift intensity, nor breaks or naps taken on shift. Differences in psychomotor performance between doctors working in different specialties were also observed.

CONCLUSIONS: The data collection methods used were found to be feasible with good participant engagement. Findings support existing evidence that night shift working in healthcare workers is associated with fatigue, with psychomotor impairment observed post shift. Lower shift intensity and napping did not appear to mitigate this effect.

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