The use of visual search tasks to determine the effects of sleep deficiency on decision-making in civilian and military emergency responders

Brown, Charlotte (2021) The use of visual search tasks to determine the effects of sleep deficiency on decision-making in civilian and military emergency responders. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

Due to long shifts and difficult working conditions, many emergency responders suffer from poor sleep and long term sleep deprivation, yet they are still required to perform at a demanding level and to make highly important decisions throughout their shifts. It is well known that sleep deprivation has a negative impact on cognitive functions and this is linked to a higher rate of accidents, both in the workplace and in other aspects of life. It is therefore important to understand how the effects of long term sleep deprivation affect decision-making in emergency responders. The study compared scores from two sleep measures (PSQI and ESS), the cognitive failures questionnaire (CFQ), and a repeated scenes search task, to determine the link between sleep, cognitive failures, and performance in the visual search task. Participants were recruited from St John Ambulance, Search and Rescue, and the Royal Army Medical Corps, with the study sent out online via Qualtrics and Pavlovia. Data were analysed using Pearson Product Moment correlations and repeated measures general liner models. Results showed that 53% of participants suffered from poor sleep, and that poor sleep correlated with increased cognitive failure scores, suggesting that long term sleep deprivation is linked to an increase in cognitive lapses. Analysis of the task results showed a decrease in sensitivity in participants with poor sleep, which was linked to increased CFQ scores and to an interruption in the learning processes due to variations in the target type. This study identifies the prevalence of long term sleep deficiencies within the emergency responder community and the effect this has on aspects of decision-making such as cognitive lapses, sensitivity, and learning processes. Further work should focus on detailing models of decision-making and the effects of sleep loss on these models, and on the practical aspect of improving sleep quality in order to reduce negative effects such as lapses and accidents.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
150657
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
12 Jan 2021 18:30
Refereed?:
No
Published?:
Unpublished
Last Modified:
26 Jan 2021 13:26