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Usability flaws of medication-related alerting functions: a systematic qualitative review


Marcilly, R and Ammenwerth, E and Vasseur, F and Roehrer, E and Beuscart-Zephir, M-C, Usability flaws of medication-related alerting functions: a systematic qualitative review, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 55 pp. 260-271. ISSN 1532-0464 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2015.03.006



Medication-related alerting functions may include usability flaws that limit their optimal use. A first step on the way to preventing usability flaws is to understand the characteristics of these usability flaws. This systematic qualitative review aims to analyze the type of usability flaws found in medication-related alerting functions.


Papers were searched via PubMed, Scopus and Ergonomics Abstracts databases, along with references lists. Paper selection, data extraction and data analysis was performed by two to three Human Factors experts. Meaningful semantic units representing instances of usability flaws were the main data extracted. They were analyzed through qualitative methods: categorization following general usability heuristics and through an inductive process for the flaws specific to medication-related alerting functions.

Main results

From the 6380 papers initially identified, 26 met all eligibility criteria. The analysis of the papers identified a total of 168 instances of usability flaws that could be classified into 13 categories of usability flaws representing either violations of general usability principles (i.e. they could be found in any system, e.g. guidance and workload issues) or infractions specific to medication-related alerting functions. The latter refer to issues of low signal-to-noise ratio, incomplete content of alerts, transparency, presentation mode and timing, missing alert features, tasks and control distribution.

Main conclusion

The list of 168 instances of usability flaws of medication-related alerting functions provides a source of knowledge for checking the usability of medication-related alerting functions during their design and evaluation process and ultimately constructs evidence-based usability design principles for these functions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:user-computer interface, human engineering, decision support systems, clinical, review, systematic, usability, alerting functions
Research Division:Information and Computing Sciences
Research Group:Library and information studies
Research Field:Organisation of information and knowledge resources
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Roehrer, E (Dr Erin Roehrer)
ID Code:100841
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:Information and Communication Technology
Deposited On:2015-06-01
Last Modified:2017-11-18

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