Study: Decision fatigue: A conceptual analysis

Study: Decision fatigue: A conceptual analysis

Keywords: behavioral medicine, cognitive processing, health behavior, health psychology, social cognitions

Author(s): Grant Pignatiello, Richard Martin & Ronald Hickman Jr

Date: 2020


Decision fatigue is an applicable concept to healthcare psychology. Due to a lack of conceptual clarity, we present a concept analysis of decision fatigue. A search of the term “decision fatigue” was conducted across seven research databases, which yielded 17 relevant articles. The authors identified three antecedent themes (decisional, self-regulatory, and situational) and three attributional themes (behavioral, cognitive, and physiological) of decision fatigue. However, the extant literature failed to adequately describe consequences of decision fatigue. This concept analysis provides needed conceptual clarity for decision fatigue, a concept possessing relevance to nursing and allied health sciences.


It is estimated that an American adult makes 35,000 decisions a day (Sollisch, 2016).


This concept analysis indicates decision fatigue is a widespread phenomenon that has yet to be widely applied to healthcare decision-making and behavioral frameworks. The manifestation of decision fatigue is contingent upon several factors related to decision-making, self-regulation, and idiosyncratic scenarios. Moreover, in addition to the psychometrically sound instrument presented by Hickman et al. (2018), this analysis identified several relevant attributes related to alterations in reasoning, behavior, and physiology that serve as useful indicators of decision fatigue. Our analysis was limited by the dearth of consequences related to decision fatigue in the reviewed literature; however, this limitation provides a unique opportunity for scholarly inquiry into the potential outcomes of individuals who make decisions while experiencing decision fatigue. To this end, decision fatigue is a highly relevant concept of interest that possesses ramifications for healthcare science, theory, practice, and policy.