Graduation Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Director of the Honors Program

Lynn Sondag, MFA

First Reader

Patricia Harris, PhD, RN

Second Reader

Olivia Catolico, PhD, MS, RN, CNL, BC


Objective: To examine the association between fatigue and caffeine consumption, and explore nurses’ perceptions of the impact of these factors on patient safety.

Background: Many people consume caffeine for its benefits, such as stimulating the central nervous system to feel more awake. Health professionals, such as nurses, commonly experience fatigue and often will drink coffee to get through their long shifts.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted. Studies were split into two categories – fatigue and patient safety or caffeine's effect on human performance.

Results: Fatigue causes nurses to be impaired; it affects their ability to be alert, vigilant, and safe. A majority of nurses reported being moderately fatigued. Also, they are more likely to report decision regret compared to unimpaired nurses. Nurses often work longer than they’re scheduled to and the likelihood of making an error may increase with longer work hours.

Caffeine has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance alertness, and decrease tiredness.

Conclusion: Caffeine can improve mental performance and decrease feelings of fatigue. While research focuses on the physiological effects of caffeine and the role that fatigue plays in impaired functioning, less is known about potential links between fatigue, caffeine consumption, and patient safety in the healthcare setting. To explore these relationships, a phenomenological qualitative study proposes to answer the following question:

What is the nurses’ lived experience of consuming caffeine to fight fatigue and their perception of the impact of this combination, if any, on the safe provision of patient care?

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