Background and Research Aims

The study of fatigue in relation to work performance is especially important in surgical settings. In fact, the nature of health care frequently entails shift-work, prolonged work hours, and overnight emergency calls. These environments can be particularly deleterious for sleep quality and lead to episodes of acute physical and cognitive fatigue.

However, there is ambiguous evidence for the effects of fatigue on surgical performance. Consequently, a heated debate has sparked as to whether fatigue should be regarded as a matter of primary concern in surgical settings.

Using a multi-method approach, this research aims to provide:

  1. A more comprehensive understanding of how surgeons view fatigue,
  2. Surgeons perception of how fatigue affects work performance and team work, and
  3. Potential individual and organisational strategies for addressing fatigue issues.

This research endeavours to emphasise the need to develop effective organisational practices, industry policies and regulations to minimise the effects sleep deprivation and fatigue on performance in surgical settings.

Research project ongoing.


Prof Sharon Parker
PhD Candidate Francesco Cangiano (
Prof Jeff Hamdorf
Dr Stewart Flemming


Photo Credit: "Medical/Surgical Operative Photography" by Phalinn Ooi is licensed under CC BY 2.0