Nurses' drowsy driving prevention strategies: A qualitative exploratory multiple-case study

Gina Rhodes, Joshua Bernstein, Ruth Grendell


Objective: To explore the strategies registered and licensed practical nurses implemented to lessen the possibility of driving while drowsy after working nights in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health facilities. A review of literature indicated shift work, circadian rhythm interruptions and multiple stressors such as age, caring for children/aging parents and working multiple jobs may affect drowsy driving. Studies on global drowsy driving and cultural differences may affect international applicability. Further research was needed to better understand drowsy driving best practices, training modalities for health care workers, and developing a multidisciplinary collaboration between management and night-shift workers.

Methods: A qualitative, exploratory multiple-case method was utilized. Registered and licensed practical nurses (N = 12) were interviewed.

Results: Identified themes including three major themes emerged from the data analysis. 1) Fatigue is a significant challenge that impedes driving home safely. 2) Night nurses experience significant additional stressors relating to caring for family, school, and multiple jobs. 3) Multiple strategies are helpful, but they do not replace the body’s need for sleep. Strategies for managing drowsy driving and anxiety/stress producing issues were offered.

Conclusions: Twelve-night shift workers shared the challenges drowsy driving and anxiety/stress producing issues outside of the work-related duties. Health care administrators may use the results to gain insight for training nurses for the night shift to prevent drowsy driving injuries and fatalities. The results of the study may offer a platform for further investigation that may uncover best-practice strategies for health care administrators staffing other types of 24-hour medical care facilities.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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