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Perception and Predictability of Travel Fatigue after Long-Haul Flights: a Retrospective Study

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Flower DJC, Irvine D, Folkard S. Perception and predictability of travel fatigue after long haul-flights: a retrospective study. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:173–9.

Background:. The impact of travel fatigue and jet lag varies between individuals and may significantly affect the ability of some to perform their occupational role following a transmeridian flight. It would be advantageous in an occupational setting to be able to predict prior to travel those who may suffer most. Methods: A Traveler Profile Questionnaire was developed to assess the perceived severity of travel fatigue in 100 subjects making transmeridian flights. Results: The questionnaire provided an internally consistent measure of fatigue and confirmed that subjects experienced greater symptoms of travel fatigue following east/west flights when compared with north/south. Easterly travel was rated marginally worse than travel in a westerly direction. The respondents scores as measured by the Circadian Type Inventory (Folkard 1987) and Composite Morningness Questionnaire (Smith 1989) were used to identify whether such tools could be used as indicators of susceptibility to the effects of travel fatigue. After allowing for a gender difference, increased rigidity in sleeping habits as shown by a decrease in the Flexibility/Rigidity score on the Circadian Type Inventory was associated with an increase in the composite ‘severity’ score for travel fatigue derived from ratings of specific physiological symptoms. Conclusions: The Traveler Profile Questionnaire, while internally consistent was nonetheless insufficient to be used in a predictive capacity to identify those individuals who would suffer most from the effects of travel fatigue.

Keywords: Circadian Type Inventory; Composite Morningness Questionnaire; jet lag; transmeridian flight

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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