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Effect of expertise on diagnosis accuracy, non-technical skills and thought processes during simulated high-fidelity anaesthetist scenarios


Background The expert performance approach can be used to examine expertise during representative field-based tasks, while collecting process-tracing measures such as think-aloud verbal reports. Collecting think-aloud verbal reports provides an insight into the cognitive mechanisms that support performance during tasks.

Method We examined the thought processes and performance of anaesthetists during simulated environments. Verbal reports of thinking and the anaesthetists’ non-technical skills (ANTS) were recorded to examine cognitive processes, non-technical behaviours and diagnosis accuracy during fully immersive, high-fidelity medical scenarios. Skilled (n=6) and less skilled (n=9) anaesthetists were instructed to respond to medical scenarios experienced in theatre.

Results Skilled participants demonstrated higher diagnosis accuracy and ANTS scores compared to less skilled participants. Furthermore, skilled participants engaged in deeper thinking and verbalised more evaluation, prediction and deep planning statements.

Conclusions The ability to employ an effective cognitive processing strategy, more efficient non-technical behaviours and superior diagnosis is associated with superior performance in skilled participants.

  • Decision-making
  • Anaesthesia
  • Verbal reports
  • Medical simulation

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