Objective: To determine the efficacy of a peer-led tuition model for training healthcare students in basic life support compared to tuition delivered by clinical tutors.
Design and setting: Randomised controlled trial in the Medical School, University of Birmingham, UK.
Participants: 122 first-year medical, dental, nursing and physiotherapy students.
Interventions: Students were randomised to receive basic life support tuition from either second-year student instructors or from experienced clinical staff.
Measurements and results: Students' practical skills, knowledge and satisfaction were tested at the end of the course. Instructor reliability was assessed throughout the course. Students taught by their peers were significantly more likely to be successful in the end-of-course practical CPR test than those taught by clinical staff (56/57 vs. 53/62). The student instructors were also found to be more reliable than clinical staff at attending the training sessions (48/48 vs. 36/48). There was no significant difference in the theoretical test results or the students' assessment of the quality of teaching.
Conclusions: This model of peer-led undergraduate training in basic life support provides a quality of education which is at least as good as that provided by clinical staff, while offering advantages in terms of reliability. The re-deployment of clinical tutors from basic to more advanced training may allow the overall enhancement of undergraduate resuscitation and critical care training.