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

K. A. Wesnes, M. B. Walker, L. G. Walker*, S. D. Heys, L. White, R. Warren, O. Eremin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-495
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997


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