How to become proficient in performance of the resting ankle–brachial index: Results of the first randomized controlled trial

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The resting ankle–brachial index (ABI) is a first-line test to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD). No randomized controlled trial (RCT) has yet been conducted to determine the best teaching method to become proficient in the ABI procedure. We conducted a monocentric RCT to determine whether didactic learning alone or didactic learning combined with experiential learning improved proficiency in the ABI procedure. Medical students (n = 30) received didactic learning, including (i) a presentation of the ABI guidelines and (ii) a video demonstration. Each student was then randomized into two groups (‘no experiential learning group’ and ‘experiential learning group’). An initial evaluation was performed after the didactic learning and a final evaluation at the end of the intervention. A student was considered to be proficient when he or she performed a correct ABI procedure on a healthy individual and a patient. The correct procedure corresponds to (i) following guidelines and (ii) a difference in ABI measurement between a vascular specialist and a student of ≤ 0.15. No student was proficient at the initial evaluation. At the final evaluation, in the didactic learning group, the number of proficient students was not improved compared with the initial evaluation (0/10 vs 1/10). In the experiential learning group, the number of proficient students was significantly improved (0/20 vs 11/20; p < 0.05). At the final evaluation, there was a significant difference between the number of proficient students depending on their learning group. In conclusion, didactic learning alone is insufficient to gain proficiency in the ABI procedure. Combining didactic learning with experiential learning significantly improved the students’ proficiency.

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