Comparison between Simulation-based Training and Lecture-based Education in Teaching Situation Awareness. A Randomized Controlled Study

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Situation awareness has been defined as the perception of the elements in the environment within volumes of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future. Intensivists often make time-sensitive critical decisions, and loss of situation awareness can lead to errors. It has been shown that simulation-based training is superior to lecture-based training for some critical scenarios. Because the methods of training to improve situation awareness have not been well studied in the medical field, we compared the impact of simulation vs. lecture training using the Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT) score.


To identify an effective method for teaching situation awareness.


We randomly assigned 17 critical care fellows to simulation vs. lecture training. Training consisted of eight cases on airway management, including topics such as elevated intracranial pressure, difficult airway, arrhythmia, and shock. During the testing scenario, at random times between 4 and 6 minutes into the simulation, the scenario was frozen, and the screens were blanked. Respondents then completed the 28 questions on the SAGAT scale. Sample items were categorized as Perception, Projection, and Comprehension of the situation. Results were analyzed using SPSS Version 21.


Eight fellows from the simulation group and nine from the lecture group underwent simulation testing. Sixty-four SAGAT scores were recorded for the simulation group and 48 scores were recorded for the lecture group. The mean simulation vs. lecture group SAGAT score was 64.3 ± 10.1 (SD) vs. 59.7 ± 10.8 (SD) (P = 0.02). There was also a difference in the median Perception ability between the simulation vs. lecture groups (61.1 vs. 55.5, P = 0.01). There was no difference in the median Projection and Comprehension scores between the two groups (50.0 vs. 50.0, P = 0.92, and 83.3 vs. 83.3, P = 0.27).


We found a significant, albeit modest, difference between simulation training and lecture training on the total SAGAT score of situation awareness mainly because of the improvement in perception ability. Simulation may be a superior method of teaching situation awareness.

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