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Uncertain call likelihood negatively affects sleep and next day cognitive performance while on-call in a laboratory environment

journal contribution
posted on 29.08.2018, 00:00 by Madeline Sprajcer, Sarah Jay, Grace Vincent, A Vakulin, L Lack, Sally Ferguson
On-call working arrangements are employed in a number of industries to manage unpredictable events, and often involve tasks that are safety- or time-critical. This study investigated the effects of call likelihood during an overnight on-call shift on self-reported pre-bed anxiety, sleep and next-day cognitive performance. A four-night laboratory-based protocol was employed, with an adaptation, a control and two counterbalanced on-call nights. On one on-call night, participants were instructed that they would definitely be called during the night, while on the other on-call night they were told they may be called. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory form x-1 was used to investigate pre-bed anxiety, and sleep was assessed using polysomnography and power spectral analysis of the sleep electroencephalographic analysis. Cognitive performance was assessed four times daily using a 10-min psychomotor vigilance task. Participants felt more anxious before bed when they were definitely going to be called, compared with the control and maybe conditions. Conversely, participants experienced significantly less non-rapid eye movement and stage two sleep and poorer cognitive performance when told they may be called. Further, participants had significantly more rapid eye movement sleep in the maybe condition, which may be an adaptive response to the stress associated with this on-call condition. It appears that self-reported anxiety may not be linked with sleep outcomes while on-call. However, this research indicates that it is important to take call likelihood into consideration when constructing rosters and risk management systems for on-call workers.

Funding

Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)

History

Volume

35

Issue

6

Start Page

838

End Page

848

Number of Pages

11

ISSN

0742-0528

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

Acceptance Date

21/12/2017

External Author Affiliations

Flinders University; University of Sydney

Author Research Institute

Appleton Institute

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Chronobiology International