Objective structured assessment of debriefing: bringing science to the art of debriefing in surgery

Ann Surg. 2012 Dec;256(6):982-8. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182610c91.


Objective: : To identify the features of effective debriefing and to use this to develop and validate a tool for assessing such debriefings.

Introduction: : Simulation-based training has become an accepted means of surgical skill acquisition. A key component of this is debriefing-yet there is a paucity of research to guide best practice.

Methods: : Phase 1-Identification of best practice and tool development. A search of the Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and ERIC databases identified current evidence on debriefing. End-user input was obtained through 33 semistructured interviews conducted with surgeons (n = 18) and other operating room personnel (n = 15) from 3 continents (UK, USA, Australia) using standardized qualitative methodology. An expert panel (n = 7) combined the data to create the Objective Structured Assessment of Debriefing (OSAD) tool. Phase 2-Psychometric testing. OSAD was tested for feasibility, reliability, and validity by 2 independent assessors who rated 20 debriefings following high-fidelity simulations.

Results: : Phase 1: 28 reports on debriefing were retrieved from the literature. Key components of an effective debriefing identified from these reports and the 33 interviews included: approach to debriefing, learning environment, learner engagement, reaction, reflection, analysis, diagnosis of strengths and areas for improvement, and application to clinical practice. Phase 2: OSAD was feasible, reliable [inter-rater ICC (intraclass correlation coefficient) = 0.88, test-retest ICC = 0.90], and face and content valid (content validity index = 0.94).

Conclusions: : OSAD provides an evidence-based, end-user informed approach to debriefing in surgery. By quantifying the quality of a debriefing, OSAD has the potential to identify areas for improving practice and to optimize learning during simulation-based training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Specialties, Surgical / education*
  • Specialties, Surgical / standards*