Post-duty psychomotor performance in young and senior anaesthetists

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2006 Mar;23(3):251-6. doi: 10.1017/S0265021505002267.


Background and objective: The level of performance in junior and senior anaesthetists was investigated after 24-h shift working and on-call duties.

Methods: Pre- and post-duty psychomotor function, influence on response time, cognitive function and well-being in 23 individuals (13 junior and 12 senior anaesthetists) was assessed before and after 24-h in-house on-call duty. Subjective perception of tiredness and concentration abilities was estimated by applying a visual analogue scale.

Results: The self-assessed tiredness prior to duty was high in both age groups and significantly increased in senior anaesthetists after night duty (P = 0.01). Post-duty impairment of concentration abilities was reported in both groups. Comparing results from pre- and post-duty psychometric testing showed a comparable decline in junior and senior anaesthetists as well. Assessment of burnout showed a significant lack of personal accomplishment in junior anaesthetists as compared to their older colleagues (P = 0.038). Senior anaesthetists judged their contribution to patient well-being significantly higher than did their younger colleagues (P = 0.035).

Conclusions: Although tiredness and subjective impairment of concentration abilities was high in senior anaesthetists after 24-h in-house on-call duty, performance assessed by psychometric testing does not support the hypothesis that senior colleague's performance cannot keep up with routine hospital shift work.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology
  • Anesthesiology / standards*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Flicker Fusion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Fatigue / psychology
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology