Context: The limits imposed on the official working hours of paediatric residents do not necessarily reduce the amount of time they spend at work. Fatigue and stress can result from staying late voluntarily, and this in turn can alter clinical performance, much as long obligatory hours did in the past. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was made of a systematic sample of 243 primary care visits conducted in 1990 by 52 paediatric residents at a teaching hospital. The paediatric residents reported on their work responsibilities the night before each primary care visit and their communication style during the visit was analysed from recordings made on audiotapes using the Roter Interactional Analysis System (RIAS). Results: Paediatric residents who care for critically ill children were more likely to stay late even if they were not on call. During primary care visits the next day, those paediatric residents who stayed late were more verbally dominant - their verbal input, as a proportion of the total, was: 0.67 (stayed late) versus 0.62 (on call), P = 0.007; 0.67 (stayed late) versus 0.64 (left on time), P = 0.02. Paediatric residents who stayed late displayed less patient-centredness: patient-centred talk as a proportion of total 0.31 (stayed late) versus 0.36 (on call), P = 0.02; 0.31(stayed late) versus 0.34 (left on time), P = 0.03. Compared with paediatric residents who left on time, those who stayed late reported feeling less fulfilled; if their clinic was in the afternoon, they also reported more fatigue. Conclusions: The care of critically ill children may make paediatric residents more liable to remain at work after the end of their shift. The clinical interactions of such residents were more dominant and less patient-centred. Helping paediatric residents to learn to manage their work while under clinical stress could promote better adherence to guidelines on working hours and have a positive impact on patient care.
- *work schedule tolerance
- Cross-sectional studies
- Internship and residency/*organisation & administration
- Physician-patient relations
- Primary health care/*organisation & administration
ASJC Scopus subject areas