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Am J Surg. 2013 Apr;205(4):434-40. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2013.01.007. Epub 2013 Feb 16.

Actual vs perceived performance debriefing in surgery: practice far from perfect.

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Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College, London, UK.



Performance feedback or debriefing in surgery is increasingly recognized as an essential means to optimize learning in the operating room (OR). However, there is a lack of evidence regarding the current practice and barriers to debriefing in the OR.


Phase 1 consisted of semistructured interviews with surgical trainers and trainees to identify features of an effective debriefing and perceived barriers to debriefing. Phase 2 consisted of ethnographic observations of surgical cases to identify current practice and observed barriers to debriefing.


Surgical trainers and trainees identified key features of effective debriefing with regard to the approach and content; however, these were not commonly identified in practice. Culture was recognized as a significant barrier to debriefing across both phases of the study.


There is a disparity between what the surgical community views as effective debriefing and actual debriefing practices in the OR. Improvements to the current debriefing culture and practice within the field of surgery should be considered to facilitate learning from clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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