Decision Making

Current Projects

Surgeons' decision-making in the intra-operative environment

Project leads: Prof Rhona Flin and Dr Lucy Mitchell

Decision-making is considered an important skill for surgeons, particularly since risk management and decisions must be made at every stage of a patient's surgery.  However, the surgical literature has tended to focus on decisions made prior to an operation, as opposed to decisions made in the operating room.  The aim of this research project was to examine surgeons' risk assessment and decision-making during the intraoperative period. 

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council (2008-2011).


Mitchell, L., Flin, R., Youngson, G., Malik, M. & Ahmed, I. (in preparation). Intraoperative surgical risk management: a video based study.

Pauley, K., Flin, R. & Azuara-Blanco, A. (2013). Intra-operative decision making by ophthalmic surgeons. British Journal of Ophthalmology, 97, 1303-1307.

Pauley, K., Flin, R., Yule, S. & Youngson, G. (2011). Surgeons' intraoperative decision making and risk management. American Journal of Surgery, 202, 375-381.

Flin, R., Yule, S. & Youngson, G. (2007). How do surgeons make intraoperative decisions? BMJ Quality and Safety, 16, 235-239.

Completed Projects

Decision making by police firearms officers

Dr Lucy Mitchell, School of Psychology

This project examined the impact of briefing information, which was heard prior to seeing a firearms incident in a firearms training simulator, on British police officers' decisions to shoot during the simulation. Police authorized firearms officers (AFOs) heard either threat or neutral briefing information and then saw a "shoot" (suspect shot at AFO) or "no-shoot" (suspect surrendered without shooting) scenario. The results indicated that the briefing information did not influence the AFOs' decisions to shoot, but they attended to cues in the scenario and responded accordingly.


Mitchell, L. & Flin, R. (2007). Shooting decisions by police firearms officers. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 1,375-390.