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VOLUME 35, ISSUE 11

SHORT NOTE
A Combined Field and Laboratory Design for Assessing the Impact of Night Shift Work on Police Officer Operational Performance

http://dx.doi.org/10.5665/sleep.2214

Lauren B. Waggoner, MA; Devon A. Grant, MS; Hans P. A. Van Dongen, PhD; Gregory Belenky, MD; Bryan Vila, PhD

Sleep and Performance Research Center, Washington State University, Spokane WA



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Objectives:

This study assessed the utility of a combined field and laboratory research design for measuring the impact of consecutive night shift work on the sleepiness, vigilance, and driving performance of police patrol officers.

Design:

For police patrol officers working their normal night shift duty cycles, simulated driving performance and psychomotor vigilance were measured in a laboratory on two separate occasions: in the morning after the last of five consecutive 10.7-h night shifts, and at the same time in the morning after three consecutive days off duty. Order of participation in conditions was randomized among subjects.

Setting:

Subjects experienced manipulation of sleep schedules due to working night shifts in a real operational environment, but performance testing was conducted under controlled laboratory conditions.

Participants:

N = 29 active-duty police patrol officers (27 male, 2 female; age 37.1 ± 6.3 years) working night shift schedules participated in this study.

Results:

Simulated driving performance, psychomotor vigilance, and subjective sleepiness were significantly degraded following 5 consecutive night shifts as compared to 3 consecutive days off duty, indicating that active-duty police officers are susceptible to performance degradation as a consequence of working nights.

Conclusions:

This combined field and laboratory research design succeeded in bridging the gap between the realism of the operational environment and the control of laboratory performance testing, demonstrating that this is a useful approach for addressing the relationship between shift work induced fatigue and critical operational task performance.

Citation:

Waggoner LB; Grant DA; Van Dongen HPA; Belenky G; Vila B. A combined field and laboratory design for assessing the impact of night shift work on police officer operational performance. SLEEP 2012;35(11):1575-1577.

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