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Simulated death enhances learner attitudes regarding simulation

Abstract

Introduction Despite the widespread use of simulated death in healthcare education, some view it as a controversial learning tool due to potential psychological harm. Others believe that allowing death during simulation enhances participant learning. Sparse data exist in the literature about learner attitudes towards simulated death. Our objective was to establish a link between exposure to simulated death and learner attitudes regarding simulation. Our hypothesis was that exposure to simulated death will positively affect learner attitudes towards simulation.

Methods Anonymous surveys were distributed to participants of simulations conducted by our department from January 2014 to December 2015. Collected survey data included total number of simulation scenarios, exposure to death and participants’ views towards simulation afterwards. Participants also rated the simulation on a Likert scale. We compared demographic and simulation data for participants who experienced simulated death versus participants who did not. Exposure to death and clinical level were included as predictor variables in logistic regressions using the simulator experience variables as outcomes.

Results 250 survey responses were analysed. 64% of participants were attendings. 82% of participants experienced death during simulation. The group that experienced simulated death gave significantly higher ratings (4.77 vs 4.50, p=0.004) and a higher percentage of maximum ratings on the Likert scale (83% vs 59%, p=0.0002). More participants who experienced death thought that simulated death could enhance learning (76% vs 59%, p=0.021). When adjusted for training level, those who experienced death in simulation were nearly twice as likely to think that death can enhance learning (p=0.049) and 133% more likely to give the simulation the highest rating (p=0.036).

Conclusions Survey participants who experienced simulated death were more likely to think that death can enhance learning and more likely to give the simulation the highest rating, thereby demonstrating that exposure to simulated death positively affects learner attitudes regarding simulation.

  • simulation
  • death
  • healthcare education
  • learner attitude
  • survey

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