This paper considers the role of human factors in the development and evaluation of diagnostic tests for a wholly new disease, SARS-CoV-2. It charts the timeline from April 2020 to date as a small team at Imperial College London shifted their research to address the global need for accurate methods of detecting the virus. It charts the pace, politics and practicalities of working at speed, remotely and within a new national framework to deliver urgently needed results to inform policy and procurement. Every aspect of a human factors in complex sociotechnical systems came under scrutiny, alongside a need for understanding complex epidemiology, modelling and research design. The paper is illustrated with some of the research studies undertaken, particularly from the care-home sector. And the challenge to improve testing is still with us.
Peter Buckle is a Principal Research Fellow at Imperial College. Peter is the Methodology theme lead and Head of Human Factors at the London IVD Co-operative. He is a Fellow and a former President of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) and a Fellow of the International Ergonomics Association and the Royal Society of Public Health. He is a member of the UK’s Health and Safety Executive’s Workplace Health Expert Committee. He led the Robens Centre for Ergonomics (1992 to 2006) & the Robens Centre for Public Health (2007-2009) at the University of Surrey.
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