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Postgraduate research project

Fatigue risk management in healthcare: a wake-up call

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Do you have expertise and enthusiasm for human factors in healthcare?  Do you want to carry out research that could have real benefits for staff and patient safety?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then you should apply for this funded PhD project to address fatigue risk management in healthcare.


Fatigue amongst healthcare professionals presents a serious risk to both staff and patient safety.  But the problem of fatigue in healthcare has so far gone largely unacknowledged.  In response, there are growing calls for healthcare to adopt formal fatigue risk management systems (FRMS), as are common in other safety-critical industries such as aviation and rail.  However, more academic knowledge is needed to understand the challenges associated with fatigue risk management in healthcare, to determine the evidence and mechanisms for fatigue effects on performance amongst healthcare professionals, and to develop and validate a FRMS tailored to the healthcare context.

This PhD project is intended to fill those knowledge gaps, and is comprised as follows:

Understanding the problem

You will begin by conducting a comprehensive literature review, as well as carrying out primary research involving interviews with senior clinicians and/or management to understand the barriers or facilitators to implementing a FRMS.

Evidencing the problem

Using task analysis methods and available incident data, you will identify fatigue-susceptible tasks.  You will also collect objective and subjective data to determine the perceived impacts of fatigue for staff and patient safety.  Finally, a wide sample of rotas will be reviewed against established good practice for fatigue management and contemporary biomathematical models.

Effecting change

Finally, your research will conclude with the development of a FRMS in the healthcare context, using a co-design approach to test, refine and validate the model with healthcare professionals.

This PhD project is interdisciplinary, supervised by Professor Mark Young in the School of Engineering and Dr Chiara Dall’Ora in the School of Health Sciences.  Prof Young has nearly 30 years’ experience in human factors and incident investigation, while Dr Dall’Ora has been researching shiftwork among nurses since 2013.  You will be able to draw on their networks in human factors and healthcare to support your research."

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