Tailoring reveals information requirements: The case of anaesthesia alarms

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We discuss the phenomenon of system tailoring in the context of data from an observational study of anaesthesia. We found that anaesthetists tailor their monitoring equipment so that the auditory alarms are more informative. However, the occurrence of tailoring by anaesthetists in the operating theatre was infrequent, even though the flexibility to tailor exists on many of the patient monitoring systems used in the study. We present an influence diagram to explain how alarm tailoring can increase situation awareness in the operating theatre but why factors inhibiting tailoring prevent widespread use. Extending the influence diagram, we discuss ways that more informative displays could achieve the results sought by anaesthetists when they tailor their alarm systems. In particular, we argue that we should improve our designs rather than simply provide more flexible tailoring systems, because users often find tailoring a complex task. We conclude that properly designed auditory displays may benefit anaesthetists in achieving greater patient situation awareness and that designers should consider carefully how factors promoting and inhibiting tailoring will affect the end-users' likelihood of conducting tailoring. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




Watson, M., Sanderson, P., & Russell, W. J. (2004). Tailoring reveals information requirements: The case of anaesthesia alarms. Interacting with Computers, 16(2), 271–293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2003.12.002

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