A Comparison of Simulation-Based Education Versus Lecture-Based Instruction for Toxicology Training in Emergency Medicine Residents
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Simulation-based teaching (SIM) is a common method for medical education. SIM exposes residents to uncommon scenarios that require critical, timely actions. SIM may be a valuable training method for critically ill poisoned patients whose diagnosis and treatment depend on key clinical findings. Our objective was to compare medical simulation (SIM) to traditional lecture-based instruction (LEC) for training emergency medicine (EM) residents in the acute management of critically ill poisoned patients. EM residents completed two pre-intervention questionnaires: (1) a 24-item multiple-choice test of four toxicological emergencies and (2) a questionnaire using a five-point Likert scale to rate the residents’ comfort level in diagnosing and treating patients with specific toxicological emergencies. After completing the pre-intervention questionnaires, residents were randomized to SIM or LEC instruction. Two toxicologists and three EM physicians presented four toxicology topics to both groups in four 20-min sessions. One group was in the simulation center, and the other in a lecture hall. Each group then repeated the multiple-choice test and questionnaire immediately after instruction and again at 3 months after training. Answers were not discussed. The primary outcome was comparison of immediate mean post-intervention test scores and final scores 3 months later between SIM and LEC groups. Test score outcomes between groups were compared at each time point (pre-test, post-instruction, 3-month follow-up) using Wilcoxon rank sum test. Data were summarized by descriptive statistics. Continuous variables were characterized by means (SD) and tested using t tests or Wilcoxon rank sum. Categorical variables were summarized by frequencies (%) and compared between training groups with chi-square or Fisher’s exact test. Thirty-two EM residents completed pre- and post-intervention tests and comfort questionnaires on the study day. Both groups had higher post-intervention mean test scores (p < 0.001), but the LEC group showed a greater improvement compared to the SIM group (5.6 [2.3] points vs. 3.6 [2.4], p = 0.02). At the 3-month follow-up, 24 (75 %) tests and questionnaires were completed. There was no improvement in 3-month mean test scores in either group compared to immediate post-test scores. The SIM group had higher final mean test scores than the LEC group (16.6 [3.1] vs. 13.3 [2.2], p = 0.009). SIM and LEC groups reported similar diagnosis and treatment comfort level scores at baseline and improved equally after instruction. At 3 months, there was no difference between groups in comfort level scores for diagnosis or treatment. Lecture-based teaching was more effective than simulation-based instruction immediately after intervention. At 3 months, the SIM group showed greater retention than the LEC group. Resident comfort levels for diagnosis and treatment were similar regardless of the type of education.
KeywordsToxicology Simulation Education Training Residency