Background: The application of non-technical skills (NTSs) in health care has previously been described in other health-care educational programmes. NTSs are behavioural principles such as leadership, task distribution and communication. The aim of this study was to identify NTSs suitable for improving team performance in multi-professional cardiac arrest teams, and to describe barriers to the use and implementation of such NTSs by using a qualitative method.
Methods: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 Danish Advanced Life Support instructors during the period April 2006 to November 2006. Interviews were focussed on barriers and recommendations for teamwork in the cardiac arrest team, optimal policy for improvement of resuscitation training and clinical practice, use of cognitive aids and adoption of European Resuscitation Council (ERC) Guidelines 2005. Interviews and data analysis were supported by a template describing 25 NTSs derived from other educational programmes in health care.
Results: A framework with five categories relating to NTSs was identified: leadership, communication, mutual performance monitoring, maintenance of standards and guidelines and task management. Important barriers that were identified were inexperienced team leaders, task overload and hierarchic structure in the teams' inability to maintain focus on chest compressions.
Conclusion: Interview participants pointed out that NTSs of teams could improve the treatment of cardiac arrest, but several barriers to this exist. Improving resuscitation training should include considerations regarding team leader experience, structured communication, mandatory use of cognitive aids, avoidance of task overload and mutual performance monitoring to avoid unnecessary interruptions in chest compressions.
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