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Ann Surg. 2008 Aug;248(2):166-79. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318176bf24.

A systematic review of skills transfer after surgical simulation training.

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  • 1ASERNIP-S, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



To determine whether skills acquired by simulation-based training transfer to the operative setting.


The fundamental assumption of simulation-based training is that skills acquired in simulated settings are directly transferable to the operating room, yet little evidence has focused on correlating simulated performance with actual surgical performance.


A systematic search strategy was used to retrieve relevant studies. Inclusion of articles was determined using a predetermined protocol, independent assessment by 2 reviewers, and a final consensus decision. Only studies that reported on the use of simulation-based training for surgical skills training, and the transferability of these skills to the operative setting, were included.


Ten randomized controlled trials and 1 nonrandomized comparative study were included in this review. In most cases, simulation-based training was in addition to normal training programs. Only 1 study compared simulation-based training with patient-based training. For laparoscopic cholecystectomy and colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy, participants who received simulation-based training before undergoing patient-based assessment performed better than their counterparts who did not receive previous simulation training, but improvement was not demonstrated for all measured parameters.


Skills acquired by simulation-based training seem to be transferable to the operative setting. The studies included in this review were of variable quality and did not use comparable simulation-based training methodologies, which limited the strength of the conclusions. More studies are required to strengthen the evidence base and to provide the evidence needed to determine the extent to which simulation should become a part of surgical training programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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