Johnson, Frances

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Background: Exhaustion is now accepted in nursing culture. Staff suffering from sleepiness and fatigue are more likely to commit medical errors and sentinel events. Emergency department nurses have the greatest risk of committing these errors. Currently, there is no relief provided to shift workers beyond a single 30-minute meal break within a 12-hour period. Other researched mitigation strategies have either failed or are unrealistic in this environment.

Local Problem: Emergency Department nurses at Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, TN suffer from chronic sleepiness and fatigue that is exacerbated by shift duration, excessive workload, a stressful environment, and lack of available unit-specific symptomatology reduction while at work.

Intervention: Participants self-reported sleepiness and fatigue surveys prior to and immediately after 25 minutes of 465nm blue LED light phototherapy during scheduled meal breaks.

Results: Using a repeated measures ANOVA, pairwise comparisons indicated no difference between baseline sleepiness or fatigue scores and pre-light treatment. There were significant differences between pre-light (M = 4.19, SD = 1.15) and post-light (M = 2.72, SD = 0.65) treatment sleepiness scores (F (1, 8) = 45.49, p < 0.01), and between pre-light (M = 4.39, SD = 1.31) and post-light (M = 3.03, SD = 0.80) treatment fatigue scores (F (1, 8) = 35.43, p <0.001).

Conclusion: Due to a small convenience sample size, brief data collection period, and lack of control group, we cannot assert at this time that the 465nm blue LED light was responsible for the improved Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) and Samn-Perelli (SP) Fatigue Scale scores. Future study involving a multi-center approach with large sample size, and proper data collection period is necessary. Based on our initial findings, further research is warranted.

Search Terms: Blue Light, Phototherapy, Nurse Sleepiness, Nurse Fatigue, Exhaustion, Emergency Department, Shift Work, Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, Samn-Perelli Fatigue Scale.