Course Objectives


The goal of this short course is to introduce Human Factors science and its application to healthcare. Human Factors (also referred to as Ergonomics) is concerned with the understanding of the interactions between humans and other elements of a complex system. The goal of Human Factors science is to apply theory, methods and principles to optimise the design of systems to enhance human performance and overall system safety (International Ergonomics Association, 2019). Think of medical device design, simulation-based training, design of guidelines and protocols, team dynamics and organisational management. All these are the individual elements that make up the layers of our complex healthcare system, and contribute to patient safety at the frontline (as illustrated in Bogner’s artichoke model).

The artichoke model as a systems approach to patient safety (Bogner, 2000)
The artichoke model as a systems approach to patient safety (Bogner, 2000)

Human Factors advocates a system approach and is thus in stark contrast to the ‘persons approach’, which focuses on individuals and human error. The persons approach has traditionally dominated healthcare. While Human Factors principles have been successfully implemented in other high-risk industries such aviation and the military, its uptake in healthcare has been much slower and only recently started to increase.

This course will offer an introduction to the science of Human Factors and its role in healthcare. Over the course of six weeks, important topics on Human Factors and their application to healthcare are discussed by renowned Human Factors experts.

The course has a very applied focus with the goal to offer as many ‘take home’ messages for participants as possible. The course will offer an introduction to:

  • The broad and diverse discipline of Human Factors and why Human Factors science is essential to healthcare.
  • How to perform Human Factors research in healthcare using key Human Factors methods such as hierarchical task analysis, user-centred design and AcciMap.
  • Specific examples of how to apply Human Factors research methods to healthcare challenges such as interruption management and teamwork in time pressured emergencies.
  • Resilience Engineering as a recent movement within Human Factors Engineering and the important role of strengthening resilient performance in healthcare.

Participants will be provided with a completion certificate at the end of the course.