Validation of computer simulation training for esophagogastroduodenoscopy: Pilot study

Robert E Sedlack
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2007, 22 (8): 1214-9

BACKGROUND: Little is known regarding the value of esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) simulators in education. The purpose of the present paper was to validate the use of computer simulation in novice EGD training.

METHODS: In phase 1, expert endoscopists evaluated various aspects of simulation fidelity as compared to live endoscopy. Additionally, computer-recorded performance metrics were assessed by comparing the recorded scores from users of three different experience levels. In phase 2, the transfer of simulation-acquired skills to the clinical setting was assessed in a two-group, randomized pilot study. The setting was a large gastroenterology (GI) Fellowship training program; in phase 1, 21 subjects (seven expert, intermediate and novice endoscopist), made up the three experience groups. In phase 2, eight novice GI fellows were involved in the two-group, randomized portion of the study examining the transfer of simulation skills to the clinical setting. During the initial validation phase, each of the 21 subjects completed two standardized EDG scenarios on a computer simulator and their performance scores were recorded for seven parameters. Following this, staff participants completed a questionnaire evaluating various aspects of the simulator's fidelity. Finally, four novice GI fellows were randomly assigned to receive 6 h of simulator-augmented training (SAT group) in EGD prior to beginning 1 month of patient-based EGD training. The remaining fellows experienced 1 month of patient-based training alone (PBT group). Results of the seven measured performance parameters were compared between three groups of varying experience using a Wilcoxon ranked sum test. The staffs' simulator fidelity survey used a 7-point Likert scale (1, very unrealistic; 4, neutral; 7, very realistic) for each of the parameters examined. During the second phase of this study, supervising staff rated both SAT and PBT fellows' patient-based performance daily. Scoring in each skill was completed using a 7-point Likert scale (1, strongly disagree; 4, neutral; 7, strongly agree). Median scores were compared between groups using the Wilcoxon ranked sum test.

RESULTS: Staff evaluations of fidelity found that only two of the parameters examined (anatomy and scope maneuverability) had a significant degree of realism. The remaining areas were felt to be limited in their fidelity. Of the computer-recorded performance scores, only the novice group could be reliably identified from the other two experience groups. In the clinical application phase, the median Patient Discomfort ratings were superior in the PBT group (6; interquartile range [IQR], 5-6) as compared to the SAT group (5; IQR, 4-6; P = 0.015). PBT fellows' ratings were also superior in Sedation, Patient Discomfort, Independence and Competence during various phases of the evaluation. At no point were SAT fellows rated higher than the PBT group in any of the parameters examined.

CONCLUSION: This EGD simulator has limitations to the degree of fidelity and can differentiate only novice endoscopists from other levels of experience. Finally, skills learned during EGD simulation training do not appear to translate well into patient-based endoscopy skills. These findings suggest against a key element of validity for the use of this computer simulator in novice EGD training.

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