Ears on the Web
Ears on the Web
Blinded Randomized Controlled Study of a Web-Based Otoscopy Simulator in Undergraduate Medical Education. Stepniak C, Wickens B, Husein M, Paradis J, Ladak HM, Fung K, Agrawal SK
Laryngoscope, (published online ahead of print). https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/lary.26246
Reviewed by Chris Bergsman
Tags: pre-clerkship, simulation, technology, technical skills
What was the study question?
The study’s purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of a Web-based otoscopy simulator (OtoTrain) in teaching diagnostic otoscopy to 2nd year medical students.
How was the study conducted?
41 M2 student volunteers at a single Canadian medical school were enrolled and randomly assigned to a control group and simulator group. All students took part in a pretest consisting of a series of otoscopy videos followed by an open-answer format assessment. Both groups attended standard otology lectures. The intervention group was given access to a web based otoscopy simulator for one week. The online program gave trainees the ability to learn otoscopic techniques, browse pathologies, and take a simulator tutorial. Afterwards, both the control and simulator groups completed a post-test assessment. Three experts graded the tests based on a previously created detailed marking scheme. The evaluators were blinded to student names and group assignment.
What were the outcomes?
No significant difference was seen between the 2 groups in baseline pretest scores. The control group had a 31% improvement in their post-test total score whereas the intervention group had a 71% improvement. Overall, the simulator group had a 24% higher final total score compared to the control group (P < .01).
What are the implications of these findings?
Skill acquisition and knowledge retention are critical tasks for young medical school learners. This can be a challenge in an era of increasing class sizes and limited resources. This blinded randomized controlled study demonstrates the potential value of using an online self-guided teaching tool incorporating simulation activities.
Editor’s Note: This well-designed study provides a cheaper alternative to the artificial ears that have been used as simulators before. What remains to be seen is whether it translates into skill with real patients (JG).