COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Comparison of virtual patient simulation with mannequin-based simulation for improving clinical performances in assessing and managing clinical deterioration: randomized controlled trial

Sok Ying Liaw, Sally Wai-Chi Chan, Fun-Gee Chen, Shing Chuan Hooi, Chiang Siau
Journal of Medical Internet Research 2014, 16 (9): e214
25230684

BACKGROUND: Virtual patient simulation has grown substantially in health care education. A virtual patient simulation was developed as a refresher training course to reinforce nursing clinical performance in assessing and managing deteriorating patients.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe the development of the virtual patient simulation and evaluate its efficacy, by comparing with a conventional mannequin-based simulation, for improving the nursing students' performances in assessing and managing patients with clinical deterioration.

METHODS: A randomized controlled study was conducted with 57 third-year nursing students who were recruited through email. After a baseline evaluation of all participants' clinical performance in a simulated environment, the experimental group received a 2-hour fully automated virtual patient simulation while the control group received 2-hour facilitator-led mannequin-based simulation training. All participants were then re-tested one day (first posttest) and 2.5 months (second posttest) after the intervention. The participants from the experimental group completed a survey to evaluate their learning experiences with the newly developed virtual patient simulation.

RESULTS: Compared to their baseline scores, both experimental and control groups demonstrated significant improvements (P<.001) in first and second post-test scores. While the experimental group had significantly lower (P<.05) second post-test scores compared with the first post-test scores, no significant difference (P=.94) was found between these two scores for the control group. The scores between groups did not differ significantly over time (P=.17). The virtual patient simulation was rated positively.

CONCLUSIONS: A virtual patient simulation for a refreshing training course on assessing and managing clinical deterioration was developed. Although the randomized controlled study did not show that the virtual patient simulation was superior to mannequin-based simulation, both simulations have demonstrated to be effective refresher learning strategies for improving nursing students' clinical performance. Given the greater resource requirements of mannequin-based simulation, the virtual patient simulation provides a more promising alternative learning strategy to mitigate the decay of clinical performance over time.

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