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Publication Detail
Virtual interactive surgical skills classroom: Protocol for a parallel-group, noninferiority, adjudicator-blinded, randomized controlled trial (VIRTUAL)
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Nathan A, Fricker M, Patel S, Georgi M, Hang MK, Asif A, Sinha A, Mullins W, Shea J, Hanna N, Lamb B, Kelly J, Sridhar A, Collins J
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    JMIR Research Protocols
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
Background: Traditional face-to-face training (FFT) for basic surgical skills is inaccessible and resource-intensive. Noninteractive computer-based learning is more economical but less educationally beneficial. Virtual classroom training (VCT) is a novel method that permits distanced interactive expert instruction. VCT may optimize resources and increase accessibility. Objective: We aim to investigate whether VCT is superior to computer-based learning and noninferior to FFT in improving proficiency in basic surgical skills. Methods: This is a protocol for a parallel-group, noninferiority, randomized controlled trial. A sample of 72 undergraduates will be recruited from 5 medical schools in London. Participants will be stratified by subjective and objective suturing experience level and allocated to 3 intervention groups at a 1:1:1 ratio. VCT will be delivered using the BARCO weConnect software, and FFT will be provided by expert instructors. Optimal student-to-teacher ratios of 12:1 for VCT and 4:1 for FFT will be maintained. The assessed task will be interrupted suturing with hand-tied knots. Results: The primary outcome will be the postintervention Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills score, adjudicated by 2 experts blinded to the study and adjusted for baseline proficiency. The noninferiority margin (δ) will be defined using historical data. Conclusions: This study will serve as a comprehensive appraisal of the suitability of virtual basic surgical skills classroom training as an alternative to FFT. Our findings will assist the development and implementation of further resource-efficient, accessible, virtual basic surgical skills training programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future.
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