A pilot study examining experiential learning vs didactic education of abdominal compartment syndrome



      Current surgical education relies on simulated educational experiences or didactic sessions to teach low-frequency clinical events such as abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS). The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate if simulation would improve performance and knowledge retention of ACS better than a didactic lecture.


      Nineteen general surgery residents were block randomized by postgraduate year level to a didactic or a simulation session. After 3 months, all residents completed a knowledge assessment before participating in an additional simulation. Two independent reviewers assessed resident performance via audio-video recordings.


      No baseline differences in ACS experience were noted between groups. The observational evaluation demonstrated a significant difference in performance between the didactic and simulation groups: 9.9 vs 12.5, P = .037 (effect size = 1.15). Knowledge retention was equivalent between groups.


      This pilot study suggests that simulation-based education may be more effective for teaching the basic concepts of ACS.


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