Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts




Dr. Alan Salmoni


It is estimated that as many as 98,000 people die due to medical errors that occur in hospitals worldwide any given year. Studies suggest there is a deterioration in nurses’ sleep quality as a result of rotational shift work and this impairs nursing work performance. The present study determined the feasibility of using nursing students to study the impact of shift work on their sleep quality, fatigue and executive function.Results suggested a future study would be feasible after changing certain aspects of the methodology. Most importantly is a need to employ a large enough sample to include a representative array of shift types typically found in the workplace. Second, an improved test of executive function is needed. Also, a daily measure of sleep outcomes, in addition to the monthly retrospective measures used, is warranted.

Summary for Lay Audience

Industries in society require around-the-clock production. Health care providers such as doctors and nurses are expected to provide medical assistance at all hours of the day. To accommodate for a 24-hour, 7-day week schedule, hospitals employ shift work schedules. Shift work schedules include day shifts and night shifts. Shift work can disrupt the body's natural sleep patterns resulting in daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This fatigue has direct influence on neurocognitive abilities that can effect a nurse's performance, putting others and them self at risk.Fatigue is a main component in the decrease of neurocognitive function, specifically executive function and decision making. This research study used a sample of university nursing students and administered sleep quality and fatigue surveys as well as executive function test to determine the extent that shift work has on sleep quality and its influence on nurse's likelihood of make a decision error.