To explore potential risk factors for acute and chronic work-related fatigue in students working at a paid job while pursuing school studies. Although work-related fatigue was identified as a potential hazard for youth health, academic achievement, and occupational safety, very few studies have specifically addressed its correlates and possible predictors.
Cross-sectional data from an ongoing prospective cohort study of health risk behaviors in adolescents was used to identify factors associated with increased levels of acute and chronic fatigue in 209 students aged 17-18 years working during the school year. Multiple stepwise regression analyses were performed with acute and chronic fatigue levels as dependent variables, and demographic, work, and health factors as potential explanatory variables.
Average hours worked per week by students was 14.7 hours. It was observed that higher psychological distress, poorer health perception, greater sleep debt, and higher exposure to physical work factors were associated with higher levels of acute fatigue. Also, it was observed that higher psychological distress, poorer health perception, higher exposure to physical work factors, and holding multiple jobs were associated with higher levels of chronic fatigue. The number of hours worked weekly was associated with neither acute nor chronic work-related fatigue.
Findings suggest that prevention strategies devised to minimize work-related fatigue in students should consider exposure to physical work factors. Results also re-emphasize the importance of obtaining sufficient sleep so as to prevent high levels of acute work-related fatigue.