Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Health Needs

Human Factors and Complex Processes

What is human factors research?

Human factors research takes a systems approach to the design, development, evaluation and delivery of healthcare services [1]. Drawing on a broad body of interdisciplinary knowledge and methods, it aims to advance understanding of system level interventions that promote quality and safety and that add to efficiency and effectiveness, while also working to improve both professional knowledge and practice, and patient experience.

The PISCES programme

The aim of the PISCES programme is to contribute to the development of a robust research foundation for human factors interventions in complex and dynamic healthcare processes. It will focus mainly on in-patient and out-patient services in the acute sector. Key to this is improving the normalization of innovations. Through investigating the factors that promote or inhibit the adoption, implementation, and integration of innovations in healthcare technology and organisation in dynamic and complex healthcare settings [2], the programme will facilitate the development of toolkits and other approaches to overcome barriers to implementation; and it will connect implementation and improvement science with both patient-centred approaches to the delivery of care, and with enabling approaches to patient and carer help-seeking and self-care in complex relationships with the acute sector [3].

Current and future work

The core of this new programme is found in the studies making up the Complexity, Patient Experience and Organisational Behaviour theme of NIHR CLAHRC Wessex (with Richardson, Southampton), but also includes key collaborations on chronic disease management with Mair (Glasgow), Montori (Mayo Clinic), Andreassen (Tromso), and Furler (Melbourne). Over time, the PISCES programme will also come to focus on the development of conceptual models that will inform advances in patient-centred practice. Work in this area is currently underway with Foster and Bridges (Southampton) and Allen (Cardiff).


1. Russ, A.L., et al., The science of human factors: separating fact from fiction. BMJ Quality & Safety, 2013.

2. May, C., Towards a general theory of implementation. Implementation Science, 2013. 8(1): p. 18.

3. May, C., et al., Rethinking the patient: using Burden of Treatment Theory to understand the changing dynamics of illness. BMC Health Services Research, 2014. 14 (1), (281).

Privacy Settings