The research paper, called "The Effects of Sleep Loss and Fatigue on Resident-Physicians: A Multi-Institutional Mixed-Method Study," appears in a special theme issue on medical residents in the May Academic Medicine.
Using a combination of focus groups and a questionnaire, the researchers asked 149 residents in six medical specialties from five U.S. academic health centers about how sleep loss and fatigue affect their work and lives.
Lead author Klara K. Papp, Ph.D., says, "Our findings show that sleep loss and fatigue affects residents in all six of the specialties and at all five academic medical centers studied. This is of concern because residency training is such an important stage in the professional development of physicians."
"Unfortunately, the strategies residents describe adopting to cope with the effects of sleep loss and fatigue are by trial-and-error. More education is needed to increase awareness of effective strategies and countermeasures. Secondly, we need to change the prevailing attitudes among those medical educators who believe that extended periods of sleep deprivation contribute positively to residents' medical education and to patient care," says Papp, an assistant professor of medical education at the Case School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at University Hospitals of Cleveland and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Among the findings: