Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Human Factors/Ergonomics

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_893-2



Human factors, also called ergonomics, is defined as:

… the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and other methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.


Ergonomics helps harmonize things that inter with people in terms of people’s need, abilities and limitations. (International Ergonomics Association 2019)

Human factors in health care focuses on improving health-care quality, including patient safety and patient outcomes (Carayon et al. 2014). For behavioral medicine, the goals of human factors are facilitating effective knowledge, techniques, and changes for disease...
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References and Further Reading

  1. Arnold, J., & Diaz, M. C. G. (2016). Simulation training for primary caregivers in the neonatal intensive care unit. Seminars in Perinatology, 40(7), 466–472.  https://doi.org/10.1053/j.semperi.2016.08.007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin, M., & Derk, J. (2019). Lives lost, lives saved: An updated comparative analysis of avoidable deaths at hospitals graded by The Leapfrog Group. Retrieved August 8, 2019 from https://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org/media/file/Lives-Saved-White-Paper-FINAL.pdf.
  3. Carayon, P., Wetterneck, T. B., Rivera-Rodriguez, A. J., Hundt, A. S., Hoonakker, P., Holden, R., & Gurses, A. P. (2014). Human factors systems approach to healthcare quality and patient safety. Applied Ergonomics, 45(1), 14–25.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2013.04.023.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Drews, F. A. (2013). Adherence engineering: A new approach to increasing adherence to protocols. Ergonomics in Design, 21(4), 19–25.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1064804613497957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drews, F. A., & Bakdash, J. Z. (2013). Simulation training in health care. Reviews of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 8(1), 191–234.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1557234X13492977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Drews, F. A., Syroid, N., Agutter, J., Strayer, D. L., & Westenskow, D. R. (2006). Drug delivery as control task: Improving performance in a common anesthetic task. Human Factors, 48(1), 85–94.  https://doi.org/10.1518/001872006776412216.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Drews, F. A., Bakdash, J. Z., & Gleed, J. R. (2017). Improving central line maintenance to reduce central line-associated bloodstream infections. American Journal of Infection Control, 45(11), 1224–1230.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2017.05.017.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Drews, F. A., Visnovsky, L. C., & Mayer, J. (2019). Human factors engineering contributions to infection prevention and control. Human Factors.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720819833214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Durso, F. T., & Drews, F. A. (2010). Health care, aviation, and ecosystems: A socio-natural systems perspective. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(2), 71–75.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721410364728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gaba, D. M. (2000). Anesthesiology as a model for patient safety in health care. British Medical Journal, 320(7237), 785–788.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7237.785.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Institute of Medicine. (2000). To err is human: Building a safer health system. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.  https://doi.org/10.17226/9728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. International Ergonomics Association (2019). What is ergonomics? Definitions and domains of ergonomics. Retrieved July 31, 2019 from https://www.iea.cc/whats/index.html.
  13. Leape, L. L. (1994). Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 272(23), 1851–1857.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1994.03520230061039.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Mohr, D. C., Montague, E., Stiles-Shields, C., Kaiser, S. M., Brenner, C., Carty-Fickes, E., et al. (2015). MedLink: A mobile intervention to address failure points in the treatment of depression in general medicine. In Proceedings of the 9th international conference on pervasive computing technologies for healthcare (pp. 100–107).  https://doi.org/10.4108/icst.pervasivehealth.2015.259042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nolan, T. W. (2000). System changes to improve patient safety. British Medical Journal, 320(7237), 771–773.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7237.771.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Norman, D. A. (2002). The design of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Osterberg, L., & Blaschke, T. (2005). Adherence to medication. The New England Journal of Medicine, 353(5), 487–497.  https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra050100.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Whitehead, L., & Seaton, P. (2016). The effectiveness of self-management mobile phone and tablet apps in long-term condition management: A systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(5), e97.  https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.4883.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. World Health Organization. (2018, March). 10 facts on patient safety. Retrieved August 8, 2019 from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/patient_safety/en/.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Special EducationTexas A&M–CommerceCommerceUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Center for Human Factors in Patient SafetyVA Salt Lake City Health Care SystemSalt Lake CityUSA