Survey Assesses Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership during Simulated Surgery

August 1, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


To address the challenges of surgical training and assessment of nontechnical skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership) in the operating room, researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago developed and evaluated an easy-to-administer short-form team survey for the assessment of team skills during simulated hernia repair surgery using the facility’s validated laparoscopic ventral hernia simulator. Described in the August 2012 issue of Surgery, the assessment tool consisted of a 34-item instrument meant to measure: (1) teamwork; (2) team interaction and communication; (3) team effectiveness and focus; (4) quality expectations; and (5) possession of relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities with regard to hernia repair surgery. Five teams of three surgical residents each were formed from a group of 15 surgical residents, with teams consisting of one senior resident, one junior resident, and one intern. Each team was tasked with repairing a right upper quadrant ventral hernia within 30 minutes, requiring team members to work together to execute important intraoperative decisions, including surgical planning and technical approach. With a goal of assessing differences between team and observer ratings, six independent observers used the survey and recorded details about each team’s interactions during simulated surgery. After the simulation, residents used the same survey to self-rate their performance regarding the following elements: (1) the team clarified roles and responsibilities; (2) the team performed high-quality work; (3) the team displayed exemplary communication skills; (4) the team members displayed effective teamwork skills; (5) the team displayed high expectations for task completion; and (6) I would refer a family member to this team. Only one team successfully completed the hernia repair during the allotted time.

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