The effect of proximity, Tall Man lettering and time pressure on accurate visual perception of drug names

Amy Louise Irwin, Kathryn Jane Mearns, Margaret Watson, James Urquhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the effect of proximity and time pressure on accurate and effective visual search during medication selection from a computer screen.
Background: The presence of multiple similar objects in proximity to a target object increases the difficulty of a visual search. Visual similarity between drug names can also lead to selection error. The proximity of several similarly named drugs within a visual field could, therefore, adversely affect visual search.
Method: In Study 1, 60 nonpharmacy participants selected a target drug name from an array of mock drug packets shown on a computer screen, where one or four similarly named nontargets might be present. Of the participants, 30 completed the task with a time constraint, and the remainder did not. In Study 2, the same experiment was repeated with 28 pharmacy staff.
Results: In Study 1, the proximity of multiple similarly named nontargets within the specified visual field reduced selection accuracy and increased reaction times in the nonpharmacists. Time constraint also had an adverse effect. In Study 2, the pharmacy participants showed increased reaction times when multiple nontargets were present, but the time constraint had no effect. There was no effect of Tall Man lettering.
Conclusion: The presence of multiple similarly named medications in close proximity to a target medication increases the difficulty of the visual search for the target. Tall Man lettering has no impact on this adverse effect.
Application: The widespread use of the alphabetical system in medication storage increases the risk of proximity-based errors in drug selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Volume55
Issue number2
Early online date7 Sep 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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visual perception
Visual Perception
Names
drug
medication
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Visual Fields
Medication Systems
Experiments
time
staff
experiment

Keywords

  • pharmacy
  • Tall Man
  • time pressure
  • proximity
  • drug name similarity

Cite this

The effect of proximity, Tall Man lettering and time pressure on accurate visual perception of drug names. / Irwin, Amy Louise; Mearns, Kathryn Jane; Watson, Margaret; Urquhart, James.

In: Human Factors, Vol. 55, No. 2, 04.2013, p. 253-266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Irwin, Amy Louise ; Mearns, Kathryn Jane ; Watson, Margaret ; Urquhart, James. / The effect of proximity, Tall Man lettering and time pressure on accurate visual perception of drug names. In: Human Factors. 2013 ; Vol. 55, No. 2. pp. 253-266.
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