Background: The ability of surgeons to assess their own performance is essential for training and self-regulation. The latter is based on the premise that they recognize their weaknesses and seek remedial action accordingly.
Methods: Twenty-seven surgical trainees performed a simulated saphenofemoral high-tie on a synthetic model in a simulated operating theater. The performance assessment consisted of blinded rating of technical skills and a global rating of team skills by a human factors expert and a trained surgical research fellow. Subjects also were asked to assess their own performance using the same methods. Spearman's rho was used for data analysis.
Results: There was a strong correlation between the experts rating of technical skills and self-assessment (rho = .64). However, the correlation improved with increasing experience. It was .24 for junior trainees, .43 for those with intermediate experience, and .52 for senior trainees. There was a low correlation between the self-assessment and the expert scores for human factors skills (rho = .31). The correlation was higher for the 2 junior groups compared with the senior trainees.
Conclusions: Unlike other studies on self-assessment, this study found that senior surgical trainees are accurate in their self-assessment of technical skills. However, this was not true in the case of human factors skills.