The effect of simulator fidelity on procedure skill training: a literature review

Int J Med Educ. 2020 May 18;11:97-106. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5ea6.ae73.


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of simulator fidelity on procedure skill training through a review of existing studies.

Methods: MEDLINE, OVID and EMBASE databases were searched between January 1990 and January 2019. Search terms included "simulator fidelity and comparison" and "low fidelity" and "high fidelity" and "comparison" and "simulator". Author classification of low- and high-fidelity was used for non-laparoscopic procedures. Laparoscopic simulators are classified using a proposed schema. All included studies used a randomized methodology with two or more groups and were written in English. Data was abstracted to a standard data sheet and critically appraised from 17 eligible full papers.

Results: Of 17 studies, eight were for laparoscopic and nine for other skill training. Studies employed evaluation methodologies, including subjective and objective measures. The evaluation was conducted once in 13/17 studies and before-after in 4/17. Didactic training only or control groups were used in 5/17 studies, while 10/17 studies included two groups only. Skill acquisition and simulator fidelity were different for the level of training in 1/17 studies. Simulation training was followed by clinical evaluation or a live animal evaluation in 3/17 studies. Low-fidelity training was not inferior to training with a high-fidelity simulator in 15/17 studies.

Conclusions: Procedure skill after training with low fidelity simulators was not inferior to skill after training with high fidelity simulators in 15/17 studies. Some data suggest that the effectiveness of different fidelity simulators depends on the level of training of participants and requires further study.

Keywords: high-fidelity; laparoscopic surgery; low-fidelity; simulation education; skill assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical* / methods
  • Education, Medical* / standards
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Laparoscopy / methods
  • Laparoscopy / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Simulation Training* / methods
  • Simulation Training* / standards
  • Surgeons / education*