Glasses chart nurse stress levels at Texas hospital

Researchers at College Station-based Texas A&M University are monitoring nurses' eye movements with special glasses. They hope the results will point to causes of stress and burnout, according to a Nov. 8 article on the university's news site. 

Farzan Sasangohar, PhD, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, and his research team had nurses at Houston Methodist Hospital wear the glasses during their 12-hour shifts. They collected data on "gaze behavior" — number of eye fixations, gaze entropy and pupil diameter — as well as heart rate and skin temperature. These metrics help researchers understand the wearer's mental load at different points in their shift, according to the article. 

Their preliminary findings, published to the journal Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, showed the initial handoff period of nursing shifts has a higher mental workload than other periods. 

Researchers also noted little difference between stress levels of night and day shift nurses, according to the article. 

Dr. Sasangohar aims to use the discoveries to create continuous self-management and stress-measuring tools for nursing, the article said. 

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