Situation Awareness

Completed Projects

Distributed Situation Awareness in the Anaesthetic Management of Major Obstetric Haemorrhage

Dr Evie Fioratau, Prof Rhona Flin, School of Psychology


The aim of this research was to explore the role of Distributed Situation Awareness (DSA) on the anaesthetic management of challenging Major Obstetric Haemorrhage (MOH) cases.  DSA refers to the anaesthetist's perception of the elements of the theatre environment (Level 1), the understanding of their meaning (Level 2) and the anticipation of their progress (Level 3) in interaction with other people, e.g., patient, team members, and external artefacts in the management of a case.  The results suggest that methods for improving effective practice and training in MOH should address the interactive nature of DSA and thus of decision making, by emphasising the need to go beyond the monitoring of anaesthetic displays.

This project was funded by the Scottish Funding Council 2008 – 2011.


Fioratou, E., Flin, R., Glavin, R. & Patey, R. (under review). Situation awareness in major obstetric haemorrhage.

Fioratou, E., Flin, R., Glavin, R. & Patey, R. (2010). Beyond monitoring: distributed situation awareness in anaesthesia. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 105, 83 – 90.

Tactical Decision Games as a Training Tool in Anaesthesia

Dr Evie Fioratau, Prof Rhona Flin, School of Psychology & Dr Rona Patey, School of Medicine and Dentistry


Non-technical skills (NTS), such as decision making and situation awareness, are essential to patient safety however, there is typically no formal training related to NTS for novice anaesthetists beyond some limited high fidelity simulation sessions. Tactical Decision Games (TDGs) are a novel training tool, designed to improve decision making.  The aim of this project was to develop and deliver a programme of TDGs for anaesthetists in their first year of anaesthetic training in one school of anaesthesia, to assess the feasibility and acceptability of this training method.  Analysis of the TDG training sessions suggest that non-technical skills have a central role in novice anaesthetists' management of the scenario cases.

This project was funded by the Scottish Funding Council 2008 – 2011.


Patey, R., Fioratou, E. & Flin, R. (in preparation) Tactical decision games for anaesthetists.

Fioratou, E., Pauley, K. & Flin, R. (2011). Critical thinking in the operating theatre. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 12, 241–255.

Situation awareness: "Keeping the Bubble" in offshore crews

Dr Anne Sneddon, Dr Kathryn Mearns, School of Psychology


In many industrial settings, the situation awareness (SA) of workers needs to be maintained at a high level to ensure the safety of their operation. This is particularly relevant to offshore oil-drilling and gas-drilling crews, given the interactive and hazardous nature of their work.  The main objective of this research was to examine the hypothesised relationship between situation awareness and accident involvement in the oil and gas industry, and to develop a trait measure of awareness.

This was a PhD project sponsored by Shell Expro (2002-2005).


Sneddon, A., Mearns, K., & Flin, R. (2013). Stress, fatigue, situation awareness and safety in offshore drilling crews. Safety Science, 56, 80-88.

Sneddon, A., Mearns, K. & Flin, R. (2006). Safety and situation awareness in offshore crews. Cognition, Technology and Work, 8, 255-267.

Sneddon, A. (2006). Safety and situation awareness, 'keeping the bubble' in offshore crews. PhD thesis, University of Aberdeen.

The role of implicit attitudes in safety and risk perception

Dr Calvin Burns, School of Psychology


This project examined how trust affects situation awareness and risk assessment by offshore oil workers. It investigated how trust influences selective attention to sources of information, perception of that information and measured how that, in turn, influences the individual's ongoing situation awareness. The effects of workload and norms on situation assessment and behaviour in routine work activities were also examined.

This was a PhD project sponsored by Shell Expro (UK) and the University of Aberdeen (2000 – 2003).


Burns, C. (2005). Trust and safety culture. PhD thesis. University of Aberdeen.

Conference Paper

Burns, C. (2003) The role of trust in safety culture. Proceedings of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Offshore Europe, Aberdeen.