Adaptive coordination development in student anaesthesia teams: a longitudinal study

Ergonomics. 2012;55(1):55-68. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2011.636455.


Although adaptive coordination has been highlighted by several studies, research dealing with how adaptive coordination develops is still rare. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the development of coordination mechanisms and their task-related adaptation in a longitudinal observation of medical simulation-based training of final year students. We recorded six anaesthesia teams during a sequence of four task scenarios, and each scenario comprised of a routine and a complication phase. After trained observers rated sub-tasks within each scenario for explicit and implicit coordination, statistical analysis revealed a statistically significant effect of previous scenarios on coordination development in the routine phases. While the amount of explicit coordination decreased, implicit coordination increased, revealing adaptive coordination as a skill developed through repeated group interaction. We conclude that anaesthesia training should consider cost- and patient safety-benefits of implicit and explicit coordination and focus on adaptive coordination.

Practitioner summary: Group coordination is crucial to anaesthesia team performance. Results of this longitudinal observation of six anaesthesia teams during four medical simulation-based training scenarios document that teams develop adaptive patterns of coordination. This study also demonstrates that adaptive coordination is a trainable skill within crisis resource management training.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anesthesiology / education*
  • Anesthesiology / methods
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods
  • Students, Medical*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Videotape Recording