Karen Heaton, PhD, CEN, FNP-BC

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Making the highways safer: Improving sleep behaviors for long haul truckers

Karen Heaton, PhD, CEN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor, was awarded an R21 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for her project titled, "Effects and Feasibility of a Computer-Based Intervention on Truck Drivers' Sleep." 


As a practicing ER nurse for over 30 years and a sleep deprivation researcher for a decade, Heaton has first-hand knowledge of the devastating effects sleep deprivation can have on trucker-man-medindividuals and their families.  Truck drivers are an occupational group at particularly higher risk for sleep deprivation because of their erratic and unpredictable work schedules. At the same time, they experience the highest rates of occupational motor vehicle crashes among all job classifications in the United States. Access to information about sleep hygiene and health information can be a problem for this highly mobile, remote group of workers. 

Building on the findings from a pilot project funded by the UAB School of Nursing Dean’s Scholar Award, Dr. Heaton will examine factors that influence healthy sleep behaviors, and will validate that the delivery of computer-based, internet-accessible health information is feasible and acceptable among truck drivers. During 2012 - 2013, Dr. Heaton will be recruiting 80 truck drivers recruited at trucking industry trade shows throughout the South and Midwest.

For more information about the project, please contact Teri Martin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Dr. Heaton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Related publications

Heaton, K. L., & Rayens, M. K. (2010).  Feedback actigraphy and sleep among long-haul truck drivers. AAOHN J. 58(4):137-45.