The nature of diurnal variations in performance and their implications for shift work studies
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One of the main objectives of shift work studies is obviously to determine how efficiently people can perform their work (a) under different types of shift system, and (b) on the different shifts of a single system. In view of the difficulty of mounting large scale laboratory studies of shift work, the majority of studies have been carried out in the ‘field’. While this has had the desirable consequence that these studies are in many ways ‘realistic’ it has also had a rather restrictive influence on the type of measures that can reasonably be taken, since they must interfere only minimally with the shift-workers’ job. In many cases it has proved difficult, if not impossible, to take ‘real task’ measures because of the nature of the task, or because of intervention by the unions and/or management. It has, therefore, often proved necessary to test performance efficiency in a rather indirect manner.
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