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Beginners in residency programmes in anaesthesia are challenged because working environment is complex, and they cannot rely on experience to meet challenges. During this early stage, residents need rules and structures to guide their actions and ensure patient safety.We investigated whether self-training with an electronic audiovisual checklist app on a mobile phone would produce a long-term improvement in the safety-relevant actions during induction of general anaesthesia.During the first month of their anaesthesia residency, we randomised 26 residents to the intervention and control groups. The study was performed between August 2013 and December 2014 in two university hospitals in Germany.In addition to normal training, the residents of the intervention group trained themselves on well tolerated induction using the electronic checklist for at least 60 consecutive general anaesthesia inductions.After an initial learning phase, all residents were observed during one induction of general anaesthesia. The primary outcome was the number of safety items completed during this anaesthesia induction. Secondary outcomes were similar observations 4 and 8 weeks later.Immediately, and 4 weeks after the first learning phase, residents in the intervention group completed a significantly greater number of safety checks than residents in the control group 2.8 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4 to 5.1, P = 0.021, Cohen's d = 0.47] and 3.7 (95% CI 1.3 to 6.1, P = 0.003, Cohen's d = 0.61), respectively. The difference between the groups had disappeared by 8 weeks: mean difference in the number of safety checks at 8 weeks was 0.4, 95% CI −2.0 to 2.8, P = 0.736, Cohen's d = 0.07).The use of an audiovisual self-training checklists improves safety-relevant behaviour in the early stages of a residency training programme in anaesthesia.