Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Publications & Resources

Facts about fatigue

RNAO’s best practice guideline on fatigue states that contributing risk factors for fatigue include: on-call hours, mandatory over-time, working while sick, inadequate rest between shifts and rotating shifts within the work week. Personal factors include: working more than one job, age, home and family responsibilities, physical and mental health, and working voluntary overtime.

The top five factors contributing to fatigue in nurses, according to RNAO and CNA’s 2010 study on fatigue, were: increased workload, working short staffed, increasing expectations from patients and families, high levels of patient acuity and unexpected emergency with staffing or patients.

  • 11.4 per cent of respondents in RNAO and CNA’s report said they had eight hours or less between shifts.
  • 50 per cent of nurses indicated they missed shifts due to fatigue.
  • 55.5 per cent felt fatigued during work ‘almost always’ to ‘all the time’.
  • 80 per cent of nurses felt fatigued after work ‘almost always’ to ‘all the time’.
  • 25.6 per cent were considering leaving the profession due to fatigue.

Tips on how to beat fatigue
Eating well, resting adequately between shifts, participating in physical activity outside of work, and communicating shift preference when you know the personal impacts linked to shift patterns.
Sleep well by: ensuring your bedroom is cool, blocking out distracting noise, and installing dark shades.

Sources: RNAO’s Preventing and Mitigating Nurse Fatigue in Health Care Best Practice Guideline; Nurse Fatigue and Patient Safety; Canadian Sleep Society; the Canadian centre for Occupational Health and Safety.