The effect of escalating feedback on the acquisition of psychomotor skills for laparoscopy

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Abstract

Background

In the acquisition of new skills that are difficult to master, such as those required for laparoscopy, feedback is a crucial component of the learning experience. Optimally, feedback should accurately reflect the task performance to be improved and be proximal to the training experience. In surgery, however, feedback typically is in vivo. The development of virtual reality training systems currently offers new training options. This study investigated the effect of feedback type and quality on laparoscopic skills acquisition.

Methods

For this study, 32 laparoscopic novices were prospectively randomized into four training conditions, with 8 in each group. Group 1 (control) had no feedback. Group 2 (buzzer) had audio feedback when the edges were touched. Group 3 (voiced error) had an examiner voicing the word “error” each time the walls were touched. Group 4 (both) received both the audio buzzer and “error” voiced by the examiner All the subjects performed a maze-tracking task with a laparoscopic stylus inserted through a 5-mm port to simulate the fulcrum effect in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). A computer connected to the stylus scored an error each time the edge of the maze was touched, and the subjects were made aware of the error in the aforementioned manner. Ten 2-min trials were performed by the subjects while viewing a monitor. At the conclusion of training, all the subjects completed a 2-min trial of a simple laparoscopic cutting task, with the number of correct and incorrect incisions recorded.

Results

Group 4 (both) made significantly more correct incisions than the other three groups (F = 12.13; df = 3, 28; p < 0.001), and also made significantly fewer errors or incorrect incisions (F = 14.4; p < 0.0001). Group 4 also made three times more correct incisions and 7.4 times fewer incorrect incisions than group 1 (control).

Conclusions

The type and quality of feedback during psychomotor skill acquisition for MIS have a large effect on the strength of skills generalization to a simple MIS task and should be given serious consideration in curriculum design for surgical training using simulation tasks.

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