Medication transitions: Vulnerable periods of change in need of human factors and ergonomics

Appl Ergon. 2021 Jan;90:103279. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103279. Epub 2020 Oct 10.


We present a novel view of transitions from the lens of patient ergonomics (the "science of patient work"), which posits that patients and other non-professionals perform effortful work towards health-related goals. In patient work transitions, patients experience changes in, for example, health, task demands, work capacity, roles and responsibilities, knowledge and skills, routines, needs and technologies. Medication transitions are a particularly vulnerable type of patient work transitions. We describe two cases of medication transitions-new medications and medication deprescribing-in which the patient work lens reveals many accompanying changes, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for human factors and ergonomics.

Keywords: Medical human factors; Medication safety; Patient engagement; Patient ergonomics; Patient work; Transitions of care.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Patient Transfer*