Background: Most air medical Emergency Medical Services (EMS) clinicians work extended duration shifts, and more than 50% report inadequate sleep, poor sleep quality, and/or poor recovery between shifts. The SleepTrackTXT pilot trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02063737) showed that use of mobile phone text messages could impact EMS clinician self-reported fatigue and sleepiness during long duration shifts. The purpose of the SleepTrackTXT2 trial is to leverage lessons learned from the first SleepTrackTXT study and test an enhanced intervention targeting air medical EMS clinicians.
Methods/design: We will conduct a multi-site randomized trial with a sample of adult EMS clinicians recruited from four air medical EMS systems located in the midwest, northeastern, and southern USA. Participants will be allocated to one of two possible arms for a 4-month (120-day) study period. The intervention arm will involve text-message assessments of sleepiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating at the beginning, every 4 hours during, and at the end of scheduled shifts. Participants reporting high levels of sleepiness, fatigue, or difficulty with concentration will receive one of nine randomly selected intervention messages to promote behavior change during shift work to improve alertness. Intervention participants will receive a text-message report on Friday of each week that shows their sleep debt over the previous 7 days followed by a text message to promote paying back sleep debt recovery when feasible. Participants in the control group receive text messages that only include assessments. Both arms will receive text-message assessments of perceived recovery since last shift, sleepiness, fatigue, or difficulty with concentration at noon (1200 hours) on days between scheduled shifts (off-duty days). We have two aims for this study: (1) to determine the short-term impact of the enhanced SleepTrackTXT2 intervention on air medical clinician fatigue reported in real time during and at the end of shift work, and (2) to determine the long-term impact of the SleepTrackTXT2 intervention on sleep quality and sleep health indicators including hours of sleep and recovery between shift work.
Discussion: The SleepTrackTXT2 trial may provide evidence of real-world effectiveness that would support widespread expansion of fatigue mitigation interventions in emergency care clinician shift workers. The trial may specifically support use of real-time assessments and interventions delivered via mobile technology such as text messaging.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02783027 . Registered on 23 May 2016.
Keywords: Alertness; Emergency medicine; Fatigue; Randomized controlled trial; Shiftwork; Sleepiness.