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Human Factors Engineers & Collaborative Efforts to Improve Infection Prevention


Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, health services researcher and research scientist at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, explains the collaborative efforts of human factors engineers and infection prevention.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Most human factors engineers have their education either through industrial engineering or psychology and they also employ a lot of other methodologies including computer science, mathematics, and statistics. You have the traditional human factors engineering, but there [are] also other types of things and other professionals whom they may also work with, with respect to infection prevention. Perhaps you have a human factors engineer who’s going to work with a content expert, an ID physician, for example. They also use a lot of different methods, so they may be working with people who have qualitative method skills. I know there [have] been teams that involved anthropology and other types of research backgrounds. But traditionally, most of the human factors engineers come out of either psychology or industrial engineering.
When we think about the use of human factors in infection prevention it really is an interdisciplinary activity, so, you would, perhaps, have people with expertise in human factors, specifically, human factors engineers, but also collaboration amongst other types of professionals, including those with expertise in infection prevention or infectious diseases. You may have other individuals from other disciplines like anthropology, medical sociology or health services [and these] are the kinds of individuals who could help as we think about how we are going to improve infection prevention and reduce transmission risk.”
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