Interactive virtual classroom of surgical skills: a randomized controlled trial in parallel group, non-inferiority, without the knowledge of the adjudicator (VIRTUAL)

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J Surg Educ. November 29, 2021: S1931-7204 (21) 00321-4. doi: 10.1016 / j.jsurg.2021.11.004. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effectiveness of virtual classroom training (VCT) versus face-to-face training (FFT) and non-interactive computer learning (CBL) for surgical skills training basic.

DESIGN: This was a prospective, parallel-group, non-inferiority randomized controlled trial with three intervention groups conducted in 2021. There were three intervention groups with an allocation ratio of 1: 1: 1. Outcome evaluators did not know the assignment of interventions. The interventions consisted of 90-minute training sessions. The VCT was delivered through the BARCO weConnect platform, the FFT was delivered in person by expert instructors, and the CBL was performed by the participants independently. The main outcome was the objective structured assessment score for post-intervention technical skills, assessed by two experts and adjusted for basic skills. The assessed task consisted of placing three interrupted stitches with hand-tied knots.

BACKGROUND: This multicenter study was recruited from five London medical schools.

PARTICIPANTS: The inclusion criteria were medical student status and access to a personal computer and smartphone. One hundred and fifty-nine eligible people applied online. Seventy-two participants were randomly selected and stratified by subjective and objective suturing experience prior to block-permuted randomization.

RESULTS: Twenty-four participants were assigned to each intervention, all of which were analyzed by protocol. The sample consisted of 65.3% women with a mean age of 21.3 (SD 2.1). CTV was not less than FFT (adjusted difference 0.44, 95% CI: -0.54 to 1.75, delta 0.675), CTV was greater than CBL (adjusted difference 1.69, 95% CI: 0.41-2.96) and FFT was greater than CBL (adjusted difference 1.25, 95% CI: 0.20-2.29). The per participant costs associated with VCT, FFT and CBL were £ 22.15, £ 39.69 and £ 16.33 respectively. The instructor hours used per student for VCT and FFT were 0.25 and 0.75, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: VCT offers greater accessibility and resource efficiency compared to FFT, with similar educational benefits. VCT has the potential to improve the global availability and accessibility of surgical skills training.

PMID: 34857499 | DOI: 10.1016 / j.jsurg.2021.11.004

Perry A. Thomasson