Volume 84, Issue 4 p. 493-495
Original Article

Cognitive performance and mood after a weekend on call in a surgical unit

K. A. Wesnes

K. A. Wesnes

Cognitive Drug Research Ltd, Reading, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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M. B. Walker

M. B. Walker

Behavioural Oncology Unit, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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Dr. L. G. Walker

Corresponding Author

Dr. L. G. Walker

Behavioural Oncology Unit, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

Behavioural Oncology Unit, Departments of Mental Health and Surgery, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB9 2ZD, UKSearch for more papers by this author
S. D. Heys

S. D. Heys

Department of Surgery, Surgical Nutrition and Metabolism Unit, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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L. White

L. White

Cognitive Drug Research Ltd, Reading, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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R. Warren

R. Warren

Cognitive Drug Research Ltd, Reading, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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O. Eremin

O. Eremin

Department of Surgery, Surgical Nutrition and Metabolism Unit, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Aberdeen, UK

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First published: 14 December 2005
Citations: 10

Presented to the Association of Surgeons in Glasgow, UK, May 1996

Abstract

Background Considerable interest and concern have been expressed about junior doctors' hours. This study was carried out to evaluate the emotional and cognitive effects of a weekend on call in a surgical ward.

Methods Ten surgical house officers were assessed, in counterbalanced design, on four Monday mornings, twice after a weekend off duty and twice after a weekend on call. Cognitive functioning was assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized cognitive assessment system, and emotional state was evaluated by means of the Aberdeen Mood Rating Scale.

Results Following a weekend on call, significant impairment in concentration, speed and power was observed, and the doctors felt less confident, less energetic and more confused. Impaired attention, working memory, long-term memory and confusion were most closely correlated with number of hours worked on Sunday, and tiredness and confusion were related to number of hours slept.

Conclusion A weekend on call has significant deleterious effects on cognitive performance and mood. The findings have implications for staffing levels and the design of duty rosters.

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