A work systems analysis approach to understanding fatigue in hospital nurses.

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Adult; Aged; Cross-Sectional Studies; Fatigue; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Nursing Staff, Hospital; Occupational Diseases; Surveys and Questionnaires; Systems Analysis; Workload; Workplace; Young Adult; Macroergonomics; fatigue; hospital nurses; occupational health; safety


Occupational fatigue is an important challenge in improving health and safety in health care systems. A secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from a survey sample comprised 340 hospital nurses was conducted to explore the relationships between components of the nursing work system (person, tasks, tools and technology, environment, organisation) and nurse fatigue and recovery levels. All components of the work system were significantly associated with changes in fatigue and recovery. Results of a tree-based classification method indicated significant interactions between multiple work system components and fatigue and recovery. For example, the relationship between a task variable of 'excessive work' and acute fatigue varied based on an organisation variable related to 'time to communicate with managers/supervisors'. A work systems analysis contributes to increased understanding of fatigue, allowing for a more accurate representation of the complexity in health care systems to guide future research and practice to achieve increased nurse health and safety. Practitioner Summary: This paper explored the relationships between nursing work system components and nurse fatigue. Findings revealed significant interactions between work system components and nurses' fatigue and recovery. A systems approach allows for a more accurate representation of complexity in work systems and can guide interventions to improve nurse health and safety.