Unlocking the potential of visualisation approaches to address healthcare associated infections: a new international, cross-disciplinary, network

Dr Colin Macduff1, Professor Alastair Macdonald1Mr Kostas Tsattalios2

1Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

2Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom


Introduction: The use and experience of visual images in their many forms is a taken-for-granted aspect of endeavours within infection prevention and control. Contemporary IPC presents both enduring visualisation challenges (e.g. the invisibility of pathogenic organisms in practice contexts) and new opportunities (e.g. the potential of computer graphics to portray patterns in the conjunction of pathogens, places and people). However research and development in this field is as yet very limited in nature and scope.

Aim and Methods: Thus HAIVAIRN (Healthcare Associated Infection Visualisation and Ideation Research Network; http://visionon.org ) explores the question: how can we better address the problem of HAIs through visualisation-related ideation and applications? Its ambit ranges from visualisation of micro, unseen phenomena such as pathogens and the mind’s eye, to visualisation of macro phenomena relating to human interactions in particular healthcare environments. Enquiry is structured around a series of workshop events with interim activities.

Results: HAIVAIRN has so far coalesced expertise from medical microbiology, psychology, social geography, literature, design, nursing, cleaning services, communication, social policy and health humanities. Two workshops have taken place in the UK, featuring inputs from Australia and Canada. These workshops established insights into how different disciplines understand and use visualisation, and identified areas of research need and opportunity such as: mapping pathogen movement; communicating risk in context; designing interventions to influence practice; and visualising healthcare staff experiences. Associated development and research proposals are currently being fostered.

Conclusion: This new international, cross-disciplinary, network is gathering momentum and welcomes engagement around this dynamic issue.


I am a 2nd year PhD student at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, at Robert Gordon University, UK. I have a background in health psychology and I am interested in how people can change their health behaviours, what influences their decisions and how we can develop dedicated interventions. Currently, I am working in the field of healthcare-associated infections and exploring the role of theory and visualisations in the development of pertinent interventions.

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