The Effects of Clinical Task Interruptions on Subsequent Performance of a Medication Pre-Administration Task

  • Craig WilliamsEmail author
  • Phillip L. Morgan
  • Gary Christopher
  • Nancy Zook
  • Rebbeca Hoskins
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 972)


There is a surge of research exploring the role of task interruptions in the manifestation of primary task errors both in controlled experimental settings, and safety critical workplaces such as healthcare. Despite such research providing valuable insights into the disruptive properties of task interruption, and, the importance of considering the likely disruptive consequences of clinical task interruptions in healthcare environments, there is an urgent need for an approach that best mimics complex working environments such as healthcare, whilst allowing better control over experimental variables with minimal constraints. We propose that this can be achieved with ecologically sensitive experimental tasks designed to have high levels of experimental control so that theoretical as well as practical parameters and factors can be tested. We developed a theoretically and ecologically informed procedural memory-based task - the CAMROSE Medication Pre-Administration Task. Results revealed significantly more sequence errors were made on low, moderate and high complex conditions compared to no interruption condition. There was no significant difference in non-sequence errors. Findings reveal the importance of developing ecologically valid tasks to explore non-observable characteristics of clinical task interruptions. Both theoretical and possible practical implications are discussed.


Clinical task interruptions Procedural memory Medication administration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Phillip L. Morgan
    • 2
  • Gary Christopher
    • 1
  • Nancy Zook
    • 1
  • Rebbeca Hoskins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health and Social SciencesUniversity of the West of England (UWE) – BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Human Factors Excellence Research GroupCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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