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Sleep patterns, fatigue, and working hours among veterinary house officers: a cross-sectional survey study

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the sleep patterns, working hours, and perceptions of fatigue among veterinary house officers and to identify potential areas for targeted intervention to improve well-being.

SAMPLE

303 house officers.

PROCEDURES

A 62-item questionnaire was generated by use of an online platform and sent to veterinary house officers at participating institutions via email. Responses were analyzed for trends and associations between variables of interest.

RESULTS

The mean age of respondents was 30 ± 3.7 years. Participants included 239 residents and 64 interns. House officers slept significantly less during times when they had clinical responsibilities compared to off-clinic time (6.0 hours vs 7.5 hours, respectively; P < 0.01). The majority of house officers reported working 11 to 13 hours on a typical weekday (58% [174/302]), and 32% reported clinical responsibilities 7 d/wk. Working hours were negatively related to sleep quantity (Pearson correlation coefficient, −0.54; P < 0.01), and perceived sleep quality was worse when on call (P < 0.01). The majority of house officers felt that fatigue negatively interfered with their technical skills, clinical judgment, and ability to empathize to some extent in the previous 4 weeks.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Most house officers fail to obtain sufficient sleep for optimal cognitive function and physical and mental health. Working hours and on call may be important factors contributing to the sleep patterns of veterinary house officers, and training program structure should be critically evaluated to promote protected time for sleep.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 219 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Scharf (vfscharf@ncsu.edu)