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Paper on automation in surgery wins 2011 Human Factors Prize for Excellence in HF/E Research

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society congratulates Dietrich Manzey, Maria Luz, Stefan Mueller, Andreas Dietz, Juergen Meixensberger, and Gero Strauss on receiving the 2011 Human Factors Prize for their article, "Automation in Surgery: The Impact of Navigated-Control Assistance on Performance, Waorkload, Situation Awareness, and Acquisition of Surgical Skills."

The 2011 Prize topic is health-care ergonomics, broadly defined to include research at the intersection of health care and human factors/ergonomics. The paper by Manzey et al. reports a pair of studies designed to investigate the performance consequences of advanced automated navigation support for surgeons. These navigation systems support the surgeon's spatial orientation in the operative site by automatically identifying the position of the surgical instrument and displaying it in relation to the patient's anatomical structure on a navigation screen. The principle of "navigated control," which was the focus of Manzey et al.'s research, represents the latest advancement in automated navigation support. The results of their research demonstrate that navigated-control assistance provides benefits for patient safety and surgical outcome, though such assistance can slow performance, increase subjective workload and attentional demands, and reduce situation awareness.

The Human Factors Prize Board of Referees, a distinguished group of HF/E researchers and practitioners chaired by Immediate Past Human Factors Editor Nancy J. Cooke, found that the paper presents an excellent integration of theory and practice. Its theoretical contributions to the field of human-automation interaction are its successful efforts to link the concept of automation levels, situation awareness, workload, and performance. In addition, the data have important implications for the practice of health care both in the implementation of automation and in training. The increasing use of information technology in health care to support various clinical procedures results in a growing need to conduct research like this that speaks to evidence-based practice. Overall, the referees found the research to be original and exemplary of the science of human factors/ergonomics, with important implications for health care.

The submissions were judged on criteria that included importance of the implications for health care, originality of the research, contribution to the HF/E knowledge base, and soundness of the methodology.

"The Board of Referees worked very hard and had many very good submissions to choose from," said Cooke. "After two rounds of reviews and deliberations, it became clear that the submission by Dr. Manzey and colleagues was both a significant contribution to human factors/ergonomics and to health care and patient safety. It was the obvious winner, and we are all excited to showcase it in Human Factors and at the 2011 HFES Annual Meeting."

Dietrich Manzey is a university professor of work, engineering and organizational psychology at the Institute of Psychology and Ergonomics, Berlin Institute of Technology, Germany. He received his PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Kiel, Germany, in 1988 and his habilitation (the highest German academic qualification) in psychology from the University of Marburg, Germany, in 1999. His research addresses issues of human-automation interaction in different domains, workload, performance in complex tasks, and issues of system safety in high-hazard industries.

"I feel very honored and thank all of the reviewers very much, also on behalf of my coauthors," said Manzey. "I have always been a big fan of the field of human factors and in 2006 became one of the founders of the first human factors master's program at a German university. Getting this award means very much to me."

Maria Luz is a PhD candidate at the Department of Psychology and Ergonomics of Berlin Institute of Technology. She obtained a Diploma in Psychology from the Berlin Institute of Technology in 2008. She was responsible for conducting the experimental studies presented in the paper.

Stefan Mueller is a third-year trainee in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) at University Hospital Leipzig, Germany. He finished his basic medical training in 2008 at the University of Leipzig. He was involved in parts of the research presented in the paper.

Andreas Dietz is professor of ENT and director of the ENT Department, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany. He is an executive board member of the Innovation Center for Computer Assisted Surgery (ICCAS) at the University of Leipzig and director of the Academy of the International Development Centre for Surgical Technology in Leipzig.

Juergen Meixensberger is a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Leipzig and head of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Leipzig. He has been director of the board of the Innovation Center for Computer Assisted Surgery at the University of Leipzig since 2005. He received his MD from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, in 1985 and his habilitation in neurosurgery from the same university in 1993.

Gero Strauss is a professor for ENT-surgery at the University of Leipzig. Since 2009 he has been head of the International Development Centre for Surgical Technology. He received his MD from the University of Leipzig in1999 and his habilitation for ENT from the same university in 2006.

The award confers a $10,000 cash prize and publication of the winning paper in the December issue of Human Factors, the Society's flagship journal. The award will be presented at a special session on Wednesday, September 21, at the upcoming HFES 55th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, where the recipients will present their work. Information about the Annual Meeting may be found at


Contact: Lois Smith
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

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