RCHE Publications


Published through ProQuest- http://www.il.proquest.com/products_umi/dissertations/


Only a summary of the work is presented here. Please contact the author, (Sandra Garrett) for additional information. (garretsk@ecn.purdue.edu)


The increasing complexity of healthcare and recent awareness of deaths and injuries associated with system errors has made patient safety an issue of national concern. Improving the quality and efficiency of the U.S. healthcare delivery system is a major theme in healthcare engineering, including the research presented in this dissertation.

This research was focused on the task and resource needs of healthcare providers in clinic-based healthcare delivery. The original purpose of this study was to investigate how and when healthcare providers seek the information and resources necessary to deliver effective patient care, but quickly branched out to incorporate more global goals of how to describe and improve the medical provider team’s ability to provide better and more efficient care to patients. The evolved dissertation defined and interpreted the concept of foraging theory in the context of healthcare providers’ strategies; expanded the definition of foraging to include dimensions essential in dynamic, event-driven, time-critical settings; and refined the definition of an event and associated deadline dynamics in team-based dynamic tasks.

The research presented in this dissertation supports the concept that foraging performed in a healthcare environment is a multidimensional construct. The purpose of improved foraging strategies is to increase the quality of patient care and thus future research should investigate how the various strategies affect the quality and efficiency of care outcomes. Further investigation is needed to fully define and establish the use of proactive foraging in healthcare delivery.

Secondary research findings that emerged during the dissertation investigate how observational task analyses are conducted and can be used to create a new taxonomy structure to complement observational data collection. In addition, the issue of team communication emerged as another area for further investigation to separate the problem of interruption classification from necessary task coordination. These findings help demonstrate how improving the ability to study teams of healthcare providers will provide a significant benefit the field of healthcare research.


Human Factors, Foraging Theory, Event Dynamics, Team Coordination, Task Coordination

Date of this Version

February 2007