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Measuring Decision-Making During Thyroidectomy: Validity Evidence for a Web-Based Assessment Tool

Abstract

Background

Errors in judgment during thyroidectomy can lead to recurrent laryngeal nerve injury and other complications. Despite the strong link between patient outcomes and intraoperative decision-making, methods to evaluate these complex skills are lacking. The purpose of this study was to develop objective metrics to evaluate advanced cognitive skills during thyroidectomy and to obtain validity evidence for them.

Methods

An interactive online learning platform was developed (www.thinklikeasurgeon.com). Trainees and surgeons from four institutions completed a 33-item assessment, developed based on a cognitive task analysis and expert Delphi consensus. Sixteen items required subjects to make annotations on still frames of thyroidectomy videos, and accuracy scores were calculated based on an algorithm derived from experts’ responses (“visual concordance test,” VCT). Seven items were short answer (SA), requiring users to type their answers, and scores were automatically calculated based on their similarity to a pre-populated repertoire of correct responses. Test–retest reliability, internal consistency, and correlation of scores with self-reported experience and training level (novice, intermediate, expert) were calculated.

Results

Twenty-eight subjects (10 endocrine surgeons and otolaryngologists, 18 trainees) participated. There was high test–retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.96; n = 10) and internal consistency (Cronbach’s α = 0.93). The assessment demonstrated significant differences between novices, intermediates, and experts in total score (p < 0.01), VCT score (p < 0.01) and SA score (p < 0.01). There was high correlation between total case number and total score (ρ = 0.95, p < 0.01), between total case number and VCT score (ρ = 0.93, p < 0.01), and between total case number and SA score (ρ = 0.83, p < 0.01).

Conclusion

This study describes the development of novel metrics and provides validity evidence for an interactive Web-based platform to objectively assess decision-making during thyroidectomy.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the work of Robert Messina for developing Think Like A Surgeon©, and all the surgeons and trainees who participated in this study.

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Correspondence to Amin Madani.

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Madani, A., Gornitsky, J., Watanabe, Y. et al. Measuring Decision-Making During Thyroidectomy: Validity Evidence for a Web-Based Assessment Tool. World J Surg 42, 376–383 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00268-017-4322-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00268-017-4322-y