Since the researchers believe that confidence is a central element in competence, they said that the routine use of such simulators could not only lead to the collection of higher quality data during a trial, but can also have an important impact on improving patient safety.
Clinical trial coordinators are health care workers who collect data at the research sites. They tend to have the most contact with patients or participants in the trial.
The simulator is a life-sized human model that can be programmed to react physiologically to different scenarios, such as the administration of drugs or the placement of intravenous lines. The researchers can control the reactions of the simulated patients to allow learners to experience a variety of situations that may occur.
"While traditional methods of teaching new material involve reading and lectures, the simulator provides a hands-on experience that greatly improves the learning experience," said anesthesiologist Jeffrey Taekman, M.D., director of the Duke Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center. "The process is analogous to pilots who can train under all sorts of conditions without flying. After going through the simulations, the coordinators in our study saw a dramatic and statistically significant increase in their confidence levels."
Taekman, who is also assistant dean for educational technology at the Duke School of Medicine, presented the results of the Duke study today (Oct. 14, 2003) at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
For their study, the Duke team trained 29 coordinators who were about to be involved in a complex clinical trial that would take place in an operating room setting. Before and af
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center