Richard J. Holden, Ph.D.

Richard Holden


rjholdeniupui [dot] edu
WK 190

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Dr. Holden is an engineer and psychologist who has worked in the areas of health and healthcare since 2001. Health and healthcare have always interested him because of the deficits in quality, safety, and well-being in those domains and the enormous value of addressing these. He was also drawn to the complexity of health and healthcare systems, which makes them ideal application areas for advancing the theory and practice of his discipline, human factors.

Human factors is a person-centered, systems-oriented scientific discipline and profession. It is concerned with studying and improving work performance in sociotechnical systems such as the operating room, primary care clinic, airplane cockpit, or patient home. Human factors professionals use many existing methods and often develop new ones based on theory and practice. Human factors professionals pride themselves on strong methodology and an ability to adapt their principles, theories, methods, tools, and approaches to solve important emerging problems.

Prior to coming here, Dr. Holden completed his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, and was Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.


Five most recent journal papers:

Additional journal publications:


Selected presentations:

Research Interests

Generally speaking, I investigate how people work. I use this knowledge to design and evaluate solutions that support workers and improve their performance and well-being. Work is a broad concept and includes the activities of paid professionals such as nurses and other individuals such as patients and families, who invest effort toward achieving important health-related goals. I am particularly interested in understanding and improving:

  1. Patient work. This includes the development and testing of personal technologies, using sensor-based health monitoring, assessing patients' home and community environments, and adapting work study methods to study patient and family activity in context.
  2. Collaborative work. This includes the use of technologies to support collaborative inter-professional and patient-clinician activities and the redesign of systems and processes to facilitate communication and team cognition.

I approach these areas of inquiry by applying, adapting, or developing a variety of methods, both quantitative and qualitative. Often, I find that complex problems require a mix of methods applied by an interdisciplinary team over time and across settings. My work has been supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH/NIH), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS/NIH), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS/FORTE), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR).

Selected examples of past and current projects:

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