Teaching sterile skills in anesthesia: Is providing context helpful for robust skill acquisition?

Cnossen, F., Paul, K., Lettinga, R. & Wietasch, J., 17-Dec-2015.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

Epidural anesthesia is an invasive medical procedure for pain relief. However, current teaching methods are not sufficient for acquiring proper aseptic technique in this procedure (Friedman et al., 2008). In the present study we examined whether a context-providing method, previously successfully used for training Boeing pilots (Taatgen, Huss & Anderson, 2008), might be superior to the current practice of teaching the steps in the procedure as a list of actions.We taught 37 undergraduate medical students the preparation and execution of the first part of the epidural anesthesia procedure with either List instructions or Context instructions. In the List condition, the order of the actions had to be remembered and executed in that particular order. In the Context condition, participants were given instructions with photographs that showed the pre-conditions of a set of actions (“before”) and the post-condition (“after”), together with a description of the actions to be performed within the set. Thus, the List approach relies heavily on memory, whereas in the Context method at least part of action control should be delegated to the environment to prime the appropriate actions. However, contrary to expectations, participants in the Context condition performed worse than participants receiving the more traditional List instruction: they made significantly more sterility errors. We conclude that a better instruction method to learn a procedure does not necessarily lead to better aseptic technique and suggest that the concept of sterility be taught separately as well.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17-Dec-2015
EventNVP Winter Conference 2015 - Egmond aan Zee, Egmond aan Zee, Netherlands
Duration: 17-Dec-201519-Dec-2015


ConferenceNVP Winter Conference 2015
CityEgmond aan Zee


NVP Winter Conference 2015


Egmond aan Zee, Netherlands

Event: Conference


  • skill acquisition, anaesthesiology

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