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Occup Med (Lond). 2008 May;58(3):198-204. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqn008. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Fatigue and health in a seafaring population.

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Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, Cardiff University, UK.



Occupational fatigue is relatively common within the general population and has been linked to reduced performance, injury and longer term ill-health. Despite growing acknowledgement of this problem in the maritime sector, little research has been conducted into the risk factors, prevalence and consequences of seafarers' fatigue.


To examine the prevalence of fatigue among seafarers, identify potential risk factors and assess possible links with poor performance and ill-health.


Cross-sectional questionnaire survey of seafarers working in the offshore oil support, short-sea and deep-sea shipping industries. A number of tools were used including the fatigue subscale of the profile of fatigue-related symptoms, the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire, the General Health Questionnaire and the SF36 General Health scale.


In all, 1855 questionnaires were completed giving an overall response rate of 20%. Fatigue symptoms were associated with a range of occupational and environmental factors, many unique to seafaring. Reporting a greater number of risk factors was associated with greater fatigue [e.g. OR = 2.53 (1.90-3.35) for those with three or four risk factors and OR = 9.54 (6.95-13.09) for those with five or more risk factors]. There was also a strong link between fatigue and poorer cognitive and health outcomes, with fatigue the most important of a number of risk factors, accounting for 10-14% of the variance.


Seafarers' fatigue could impact on safety within the industry and may be linked to longer term individual ill-health. It can only be addressed by considering how multiple factors combine to contribute to fatigue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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