Recovery and well-being among Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) pilots

Mirjam Radstaak*, Sabine A.E. Geurts, Debby G.J. Beckers, Jos F. Brosschot, Michiel A.J. Kompier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the effects of a compressed working week with high cognitive and emotional work demands within the population of Dutch Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) pilots. Work stressors were measured and levels of well-being were examined before, during and after a series of day and night shifts. Results revealed that (i) the start of a series of day shifts was more taxing for well-being than the start of a series of night shifts, (ii) there were no differences in the decrease in well-being during day and night shifts, (iii) distress during shifts was more strongly related to a decrease in well-being during night than during day shifts and (iv) it took HEMS pilots more time to recover from a series of night shifts than from a series of day shifts. It is concluded that HEMS pilots should not start earlier during day shifts, nor have longer series of night shifts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-993
Number of pages8
JournalApplied ergonomics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Distress
  • Shift work


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