Objectives: To identify work factors that predict persistent fatigue in nurses’ aides.
Methods: The sample comprised 5547 Norwegian nurses’ aides, not on leave when they completed a mailed questionnaire in 1999. Of these, 4645 (83.7%) completed a second questionnaire 15 months later. The outcome measure was the occurrence of persistent fatigue, defined as having felt “usually fatigued” or “always fatigued” in daytime during the previous 14 days.
Results: In respondents without persistent fatigue at baseline, medium and high work demands, heavy smoking, being single, and having long term health problems were associated with increased risk of persistent fatigue at follow up. Medium and high rewards for well done work, medium levels of leadership fairness, and regular physical exercise were associated with reduced risk of persistent fatigue at follow up. In respondents with persistent fatigue at baseline, medium and high levels of positive challenges at work, high support from immediate superior, medium feedback about quality of one’s work, and changes of work or work tasks that resulted in less heavy work or lower work pace were associated with increased odds of recovery (no persistent fatigue at follow up). Working in a nursing home and being intensely bothered by long term health problems were associated with reduced odds of recovery.
Conclusions: High demands and lack of rewards at work may cause persistent fatigue in nurses’ aides. Reduction of demands, adequate feedback, and mental stimulation in the form of support and positive challenges may facilitate recovery in those who have persistent fatigue. Leaders in the health services may be in a position to regulate factors that influence the level of fatigue in nurses’ aides.
- nurses’ aides
- prospective studies
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Published Online First 23 February 2006
Competing interests: none.
Ethics approval: the research protocol was approved by the Norwegian Committee for Medical Research Ethics (Health Region I).