[Attention, repetitive works, fatigue and stress]

Ann Ig. 2006 Sep-Oct;18(5):417-29.
[Article in Italian]


Repetitive work in occupational settings often requires a combination of mental and physical demands, but few studies were conducted concerning the relationship between attention and repetitive work. In attentive and cognitive tasks, it is common to observe effort and fatigue without the presence of those neuromuscular modifications that would justify the use of these terms. Therefore, we can talk about mental fatigue in those cases in which it is observed the exhaustion of the necessary resources for the execution of a job that doesn't demand the employment of neuromuscular apparatus. Scientific literature about this argument consists of experimental studies which aim to estimate at what extent attentive demands exspecially cognitive demands can interact with physical ones which are peculiarities of repetitive tasks. Work characterized by the maintenance of high levels of performance for a long time, produce cognitive effort with high level of vigilance, selective attention, decisional ability, automated control mechanisms, such as "eye-hand", and may contribute to the fatigue. Indeed, fatigue plays a important role in a working context since, it may interfere with the work itself by reducing the worker's efficiency and performance and if excessive and extended, it may alter the subject's psycho-physical condition and induce different pathologies. Repetitive work can contribute to the increasing of muscular fatigue by inducing mental fatigue: for example tasks which require high vigilance but low neuromuscular work, may induce a sense of effort and fatigue and cognitive factors and mental stress may cause muscular fatigue. Several intrinsic job factors, including repetitive works, may act as stressors and they can cause mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression and somatic diseases. The European Community has often emphasized the pathogenic value of stress and fatigue with their high social and individual costs. For this purpose, it is opportune to consider the norm UNI EN ISO 10075, which points out the necessity to consider the human component, in term of mental load which implies not only the cognitive component but also the whole psychical sphere of the subject. Training intended like a sort of learning of specific modalities, supplies workers with the necessary instruments for a correct and more aware management of the peculiarities of working activity, contributing to the reduction of fatigue and stress deriving from the job.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors