DC3: An automatic speech recognition tool to assess, feedback and improve team communication in operating room teams


Teamwork in the operating room is a key aspect for patient safety. During surgical operations, tensions (from small remarks to open conflicts) may distract the team members and threaten patient safety. Based on automatic speech analysis, we will develop a tool to give the surgeons a detailed, automatized and confidential feedback on their communication during surgical operations, with a particular focus on tense, potentially rude communication sequences. (1) Identification, in audio-recorded surgical operations, patterns of speech that coincide with sequences of tense communication. (2) Establish a validated methodology to automatically assess patterns of tense communication based on audio-recordings. (3) Establish a feedback system to inform surgeons on their communication patterns assessed based on audio-recordings of operations and visible immediately after the operations. (4) Develop short, automatic and confidential recommendations and training tips for the surgeons based on the specific feedbacks they receive after an operation


The project will include: (1) a review of the literature on tensions and automatic identification of patterns of speech related to tense communication. (2) Analysis of audio recordings of surgical operations. (3) Development of a feedback tool.

Our research team

You will join an interdisciplinary research group including psychologists, surgeons and nurses. For about ten years, we have been conducting research projects on teamwork in the operating room and its impact on surgical patient outcomes. Currently, we work on research projects investigating the effects of briefings in the operating room on patient outcomes and team processes. We work in close collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) (Prof. Tanja Manser).

During the PhD studies, you will have the opportunity to spend a two month secondment at Bonn University Hospital in Germany (UKB) (Prof. Matthias Weigl) and a two month secondment at REGION HOVEDSTADEN in Denmark (RegionH) (Prof. Peter Dieckmann).

Your experience

You should have:

  • A MSc degree in psychology, linguistics, sociology, health sciences
  • Excellent knowledge of the German and English language
  • Interest for patient safety and communication
  • Interest for qualitative and quantitative research
  • Good organisational and communication skills
  • Applicants must also meet the MSCA Eligibility Criteria, see Recruitment process for more information.

Our offer

This PhD position is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) of the European Union’s “Horizon Europe 2022” research and innovation program under grant agreement No 101072843. You will be appointed as fulltime PhD for 3 years at Bern University. The MSCA programme offers competitive and attractive working conditions. The successful candidates will receive a salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for doctoral candidates. Gross salary will consist of a Living Allowance (= €40.800/year, correction factor to be applied for Switzerland: 1.28) and a monthly Mobility Allowance of €600. An additional monthly allowance of €660 is applicable depending on family situation. Please be aware that these amounts are subject to taxes, the exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment. The research project should result in a PhD thesis.

Application process

You can apply using the online application form. For more information about the position, you can contact sandra.keller@dbmr.unibe.ch. For more information see the recruitment process.

Bern University and University Hospital

The main workplace will be Bern University Hospital, department of visceral surgery. Bern University Hospital works in close collaboration with Bern University. Our research group works in close collaboration with the FHNW School of Applied Psychology in Olten. Bern University and University Hospital offer a highly dynamic research environment that supports interdisciplinary research and its translation into practice. It hosts the sitem (Center for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship) and the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research that conducts leading research on innovative technologies to be applied in healthcare settings. The research group at the Department for Visceral Surgery and Medicine has extensive experience in investigating teamwork in the operating room.