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Hot Surgery Project

Project Brief

Burn surgery patient outcomes can be improved by raising ambient temperature of theatres (Bolenbaucher et al., 2016). Thermal discomfort in work spaces can affect performance by impacting those doing work (Berg et al., 2015; N. Gaoua et al., 2012). High ambient heat increases demands of severe burn surgeries that are difficult, complex, and have longer durations than operating on less severe burns (Schmit et al., 2017). Research has focused on patient outcomes rather than the healthcare professionals who make recovery possible. Little is known about the effect of high ambient heat on healthcare professionals working repeatedly in such a hot environment (Rizzo, Rowan, Driscoll, Chan, & Chung, 2017). This research project will inform ways to mitigate adverse impacts of environmental stressors (e.g. high temperature) including costs (e.g., $160 billion in the United States), safety, health, and well-being. This project begins to resolve the tension between what is comfortable for burn surgery teams to work in versus higher temperatures that are better for patient outcomes (Katz, 2017).

  1. In what ways does high thermal stress in operating theatres impact healthcare professionals working in that environment?

  2. What can be done to buffer any detrimental (cognitive, physiological, and/or psychological) effects of heat exposure?

Contact for more information: MK Ward


        MK Ward                                       Sharon Parker                       


  • Fiona Wood

  • Kristine Owen

  • Fiona Stanley Hospital

  • The University of Western Australia, School of Sport Science

  • The University of Western Australia, Exercise and Health, Karen Wallman

  • Zehra Palejwala

More information


Berg, R. J., Inaba, K., Sullivan, M., Okoye, O., Siboni, S., Minneti, M., … Demetriades, D. (2015). The impact of heat stress on operative performance and cognitive function during simulated laparoscopic operative tasks. Surgery, 157(1), 87–95.

Bolenbaucher, R., Cotner-Pouncy, T., Edwards, C., & Jackson, B. (2016). Burn Clinical Practice Guideline, 1–20. Retrieved from www.

Gaoua, N., Grantham, J., Racinais, S., & El Massioui, F. (2012). Sensory displeasure reduces complex cognitive performance in the heat. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32(2), 158–163.

Katz, J. D. (2017). Control of the Environment in the Operating Room. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 125(4), 1214–1218.

Rizzo, J. A., Rowan, M. P., Driscoll, I. R., Chan, R. K., & Chung, K. K. (2017). Perioperative

temperature management during burn care. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 38(1), e277-e283.

Schmit, C., Hausswirth, C., Le Meur, Y., & Duffield, R. (2017). Cognitive Functioning and Heat Strain: Performance Responses and Protective Strategies. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 47(7), 1289–1302.

Shaping a Nation: Fiona Wood

Shaping a Nation: Fiona Wood

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