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BJU Int. 2014 Mar;113(3):504-8. doi: 10.1111/bju.12197. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Measuring the surgical 'learning curve': methods, variables and competency.

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1
MRC Centre for Transplantation, King's College London, King's Health Partners, Department of Urology, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe how learning curves are measured and what procedural variables are used to establish a 'learning curve' (LC). To assess whether LCs are a valuable measure of competency.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

A review of the surgical literature pertaining to LCs was conducted using the Medline and OVID databases.

RESULTS:

Variables should be fully defined and when possible, patient-specific variables should be used. Trainee's prior experience and level of supervision should be quantified; the case mix and complexity should ideally be constant. Logistic regression may be used to control for confounding variables. Ideally, a learning plateau should reach a predefined/expert-derived competency level, which should be fully defined. When the group splitting method is used, smaller cohorts should be used in order to narrow the range of the LC. Simulation technology and competence-based objective assessments may be used in training and assessment in LC studies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Measuring the surgical LC has potential benefits for patient safety and surgical education. However, standardisation in the methods and variables used to measure LCs is required. Confounding variables, such as participant's prior experience, case mix, difficulty of procedures and level of supervision, should be controlled. Competency and expert performance should be fully defined.

KEYWORDS:

education; learning curve; urology

PMID:
23819461
DOI:
10.1111/bju.12197
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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