Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) applications in responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned and considerations for methods

Abigail R. Wooldridge, Eva Maria Carman, Anping Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE), with the goal to support humans through system design, can contribute to responses to emergencies and crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we describe three cases presented at the 21st Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association to demonstrate how HFE has been applied during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely to (1) develop a mobile diagnostic testing system, (2) understand the changes within physiotherapy services, and (3) guide the transition of a perioperative pain program to telemedicine. We reflect on methodological choices and lessons learned from each case and discuss opportunities to expand the impact of HFE in responses to future emergencies. The HFE discipline should develop faster, less resource intensive but still rigorous, methods, increase available HFE expertise by growing the field, and proactively enhance individual and public perception of the importance of HFE in crisis response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103733
JournalApplied Ergonomics
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • COVID-19
  • HFE in Public health crises

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

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