The influence of psychology and human factors on education in anesthesiology

Ronnie Glavin , Rhona Flin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We look at the changing nature of medical education in the developed world with particular reference to those areas of the new curriculum frameworks which have introduced topics from the psychosocial realm.
Principle findings
Research in the branch of psychology dealing with human factors has developed a useful body of working knowledge which applies to other industries where humans interact with the complex systems in which they function. Some findings are already being applied to facets of anesthesia performance, including situation awareness, effective teamwork, countermeasures against active errors and latent pathogens, and limitations of human performance. However, existing lessons and practices from industrial or military research may not translate directly into effective strategies for anesthesiologists. Collaborative studies between psychologists and clinicians should continue in order to provide the anesthetic curriculum with an effective body of knowledge for each role of the anesthesiologist. Although individual anesthesiologists have made important contributions in this field, such material has not been formally incorporated into the curricula serving anesthesiologists in the developed world.
There is a gap between the human factors psychologists now know and the human factors anesthesiologists need to know. As that gap closes, anesthesiologists may come to think more like human factor psychologists as well as biomedical scientists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number2
Early online date2 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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