Alert override as a habitual behavior – a new perspective on a persistent problem

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Abstract

Quantifying alert override has been the focus of much research in health informatics, with override rate traditionally viewed as a surrogate inverse indicator for alert effectiveness. However, relying on alert override to assess computerized alerts assumes that alerts are being read and determined to be irrelevant by users. Our research suggests that this is unlikely to be the case when users are experiencing alert overload. We propose that over time, alert override becomes habitual. The override response is activated by environmental cues and repeated automatically, with limited conscious intention. In this paper we outline this new perspective on understanding alert override. We present evidence consistent with the notion of alert override as a habitual behavior and discuss implications of this novel perspective for future research on alert override, a common and persistent problem accompanying decision support system implementation.

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