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HFES: Multi-Tasking Can Impair Diagnostic Performance
Performing concurrent complex memorization task has negative impact of diagnostic performance

MONDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Performing a complex concurrent memorization task negatively impacts diagnostic performance, according to a study that will be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 in San Diego.

Shi Cao and Yili Lu, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, investigated the effects of concurrent tasks on diagnostic decision making using a representative medical diagnostic task. Potential confounding variables were controlled to allow the quantification of diagnostic performance and strategies.

The researchers found that a concurrent complex memorization task that required participants to listen to verbal updates and remember information about other patients had a negative impact on performance of the diagnostic task. Diagnostic performance was not impacted by performance of a simple concurrent sound monitoring task. The same diagnostic strategies were used by participants in the single- and dual-task conditions.

"When a physician is actively focusing on a time-critical diagnostic decision, other necessary information -- such as warnings, reminders, or situation updates -- should be delivered through simple or intuitive channels as much as possible to minimize potential interference," Cao said in a statement.

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September 16, 2014

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