Background: Training using laparoscopic high-fidelity simulators (LHFSs) to proficiency levels improves laparoscopic cholecystectomy skills. However, high-cost simulators and their limited availability could negatively impact residents' laparoscopic training opportunities. We aimed to assess whether motivation and surgical skill performance differ after basic skills training (BST) using a low-cost (Blackbox) versus LHFS (LapMentor) among medical students.
Materials and methods: Sixty-three medical students from Karolinska Institutet volunteered, completing written informed consent, questionnaire regarding expectations of the simulation training, and a visuospatial ability test. They were randomized into two groups that received BST using Blackbox (n = 32) or LapMentor (n = 31). However, seven students absence resulted in 56 participants, followed by another 9 dropouts. Subsequently, after training, 47 students took up three consecutive tests using the minimally invasive surgical trainer-virtual reality (MIST-VR) simulator, finalizing a questionnaire.
Results: More Blackbox group participants completed all MIST-VR tests (29/31 versus 18/25). Students anticipated mastering LapMentor would be more difficult than Blackbox (P = 0.04). In those completing the simulation training, a trend toward an increase was noted in how well participants in the Blackbox group liked the simulator training (P = 0.07). Subgroup analysis of motivation and difficulty in liking the training regardless of simulator was found only in women (Blackbox [P = 0.02]; LapMentor [P = 0.06]). In the Blackbox group, the perceived difficulty of training, facilitation, and liking the Blackbox training (significant only in women) were significantly correlated with the students' performance in the MIST-simulator. No such correlations were found in the LapMentor group.
Conclusions: Results indicate an important role for low-tech/low-cost Blackbox laparoscopic BST of students in an otherwise high-tech surrounding. Furthermore, experience of Blackbox BST procedures correlate with students' performance in the MIST-VR simulator, with some gender-specific differences.
Keywords: Basic skills training; Blackbox; Educational study; Haptic feedback; Simulation technology.
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