Background: Psychomotor skills for endoscopic surgery can be trained with virtual reality simulators. Distributed training is more effective than massed training, but it is unclear whether distributed training over several days is more effective than distributed training within 1 day. This study aimed to determine which of these two options is the most effective for training endoscopic psychomotor skills.
Methods: Students with no endoscopic experience were randomly assigned either to distributed training on 3 consecutive days (group A, n = 10) or distributed training within 1 day (group B, n = 10). For this study the SIMENDO virtual reality simulator for endoscopic skills was used. The training involved 12 repetitions of three different exercises (drop balls, needle manipulation, 30 degree endoscope) in differently distributed training schedules. All the participants performed a posttraining test (posttest) for the trained tasks 7 days after the training. The parameters measured were time, nontarget environment collisions, and instrument path length.
Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in the first training session for all the parameters. In the posttest, group A (training over several days) performed 18.7% faster than group B (training on 1 day) (p = 0.013). The collision and path length scores for group A did not differ significantly from the scores for group B.
Conclusion: The distributed group trained over several days was faster, with the same number of errors and the same instrument path length used. Psychomotor skill training for endoscopic surgery distributed over several days is superior to training on 1 day.