Background noise lowers the performance of anaesthesiology residents’ clinical reasoning when measured by script concordance: A randomised crossover volunteer study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Noise, which is omnipresent in operating rooms and ICUs, may have a negative impact not only patients but also on the concentration of and communication between clinical staff.

OBJECTIVE

The present study attempted to evaluate the impact of noise on the performance of anaesthesiology residents’ clinical reasoning. Changes in clinical reasoning were measured by script concordance tests (SCTs).

DESIGN

This was a randomised and crossover study.

SETTING

Single centre at Rouen University Hospital in April 2014.

POPULATION

All year 1 to 4 residents enrolled in the anaesthesiology training programme were included.

INTERVENTION

Performance was assessed using a 56-item SCT. Two resident groups were formed, and each was exposed to both quiet and noisy atmospheres during SCT assessment. Group A did the first part of the assessment (28 SCT) in a quiet atmosphere and the second part (28 SCT) in a noisy atmosphere. Group B did the same in reverse order.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

The primary outcome of this study was residents’ performance as measured by SCT, with and without noise (mean of 100 points 95% confidence interval).

RESULTS

Forty-two residents were included. Residents’ performance, measured by SCT, was weaker in a noisy environment than in a quiet environment [59.0 (56.0 to 62.0) vs 62.8 (60.8 to 64.9), P = 0.04]. This difference lessened as medical training advanced, as this difference in performance in noisy vs quiet environments was not observed in year 3 and 4 residents [62.9 (59.2 to 66.5) vs 64.0 (61.9 to 66.1), P = 0.60], whereas it was higher for year 1 and 2 residents [54.8 (50.6 to 59.1) vs 61.5 (57.9 to 65.1), P = 0.02].

CONCLUSION

Our study suggests that noise affects clinical reasoning of anaesthesiology residents especially junior residents when measured by SCT. This observation supports the hypothesis that noise should be prevented in operating rooms especially when junior residents are providing care.

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