Date of Award

1996

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

Department

Department of Psychology

Abstract

Telecommunication is a rapidly expanding form o f interacting with a distant party. Medicine has become a popular forum for using this technology in a field known as telemedicine. Telemedical interactions may involve anything from transmitting x-rays over great distances to examining a patient in real time via a television monitor. The introduction of any new technology carries the potential of both benefits and risks. Among these are potential risks to both medical patients and providers. The present research addresses one such risk: the consequences of excessive cognitive workload imposed by the telecommunication per se. It was the goal of this study to choose a workload metric that would later be applied to actual telemedical situations to determine the workload o f the participants. There are several evaluating metrics from which to choose. To determine the sensitivity of the several candidate workload metrics, a prototype task varying in difficulty was used. The spatial ability o f the communicators was also measured to determine whether this ability influenced performance or assessed workload. The hypothesis that task difficulty affected the task performance (time to completion) and subjective workload assessments was confirmed. For the task tested, telecommunication did not significantly effect performance measures or workload assessments. Furthermore, spatial ability had no significant effect on workload rating or on the speed with which the task was completed. Finally, the metric that best represented the different levels of task difficulty was the Subjective Workload Assessment Technique (SWAT). It was found to be the most sensitive to changes in workload throughout the experiment. Implications: Two crucial elements may be drawn from the results of this study. The first is that telecommunication does not necessarily adversely affect workload or performance. The second is that a sensitive workload metric has been selected for future use in the telemedical arena.

Keywords

Telecommunication in medicine Ohio Dayton, Medical telematics Ohio Dayton, Work measurement Ohio Dayton, Task analysis, Performance

Rights Statement

Copyright 1996, author

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