Saf Health Work.  2019 Mar;10(1):67-74. 10.1016/j.shaw.2018.08.003.

The Effects of Fatigue on Cognitive Performance in Police Officers and Staff During a Forward Rotating Shift Pattern

Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. tsyt@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Few studies have examined the effects of a forward rotating shift pattern on police employee performance and well-being. This study sought to compare sleep duration, cognitive performance, and vigilance at the start and end of each shift within a three-shift, forward rotating shift pattern, common in United Kingdom police forces.
METHODS
Twenty-three police employee participants were recruited from North Yorkshire Police (mean age, 43 years). The participants were all working the same, 10-day, forward rotating shift pattern. No other exclusion criteria were stipulated. Sleep data were gathered using both actigraphy and self-reported methods; cognitive performance and vigilance were assessed using a customized test battery, comprising five tests: motor praxis task, visual object learning task, NBACK, digital symbol substitution task, and psychomotor vigilance test. Statistical comparisons were conducted, taking into account the shift type, shift number, and the start and end of each shift worked.
RESULTS
Sleep duration was found to be significantly reduced after night shifts. Results showed a significant main effect of shift type in the visual object learning task and NBACK task and also a significant main effect of start/end in the digital symbol substitution task, along with a number of significant interactions.
CONCLUSION
The results of the tests indicated that learning and practice effects may have an effect on results of some of the tests. However, it is also possible that due to the fast rotating nature of the shift pattern, participants did not adjust to any particular shift; hence, their performance in the cognitive and vigilance tests did not suffer significantly as a result of this particular shift pattern.

Keyword

Cognitive task; Driver fatigue; Police; Shift work
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