Title page for ETD etd-12222008-194352

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gausepohl, Kimberly Ann
Author's Email Address kgansepo@vt.edu
URN etd-12222008-194352
Title Investigation of Storytelling as a Requirements Elicitation Method for Medical Devices
Degree Master of Engineering
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Arthur, James D. Committee Co-Chair
Winchester, Woodrow W. III Committee Co-Chair
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Member
  • medical device design
  • requirements elicitation
  • storytelling
  • usability
Date of Defense 2008-12-05
Availability unrestricted
Medical device usability directly impacts the practitioner’s ability to perform their diagnostic task in an effective, efficient, and safe manner. A device with poor usability may frustrate the practitioner, increasing the worker’s stress level in a high-stress work environment. In addition, a device with poor usability may facilitate operator error, increasing the patient’s risk of injury.

Designers of healthcare systems and devices face a unique conundrum that has been documented in the literature (Martin, Murphy, Crowe, & Norris, 2006; Martin, Norris, Murphy, & Crowe, 2007; Ward & Clarkson, 2007). Standards require the use of user research techniques, yet patient privacy standards prevent designers from observing users in context. The inability to observe users in their work environment impedes understanding the context-of-use. Since understanding context-of-use is required to ensure usability, further exploration into alternative methods for requirements gathering is needed.

This study explored the storytelling as an elicitation method for medical device requirements by comparing the information elicited from nurses during requirements gathering for an infusion pump by two methods: focus groups followed by interviews (Group #1) and focus groups followed by storytelling sessions (Group #2). Results suggest further exploration of storytelling is warranted as Group #2 contributed similar quantity and breadth of information in significantly less time. Results also indicate potential support for the efficacy of storytelling within the healthcare domain as Group #2 participants contributed more distinct context-of-use information with an emphasis on the social context. Contributions of this study include a plan for mixed-method data analysis, a protocol for conducting a storytelling session, and a framework for defining requirements within the healthcare domain.

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