Objective: Summarize the outcomes and best practices of simulation training for laparoscopic surgery.
Background: Simulation-based training for laparoscopic surgery has become a mainstay of surgical training. Much new evidence has accrued since previous reviews were published.
Methods: We systematically searched the literature through May 2011 for studies evaluating simulation, in comparison with no intervention or an alternate training activity, for training health professionals in laparoscopic surgery. Outcomes were classified as satisfaction, skills (in a test setting) of time (to perform the task), process (eg, performance rating), product (eg, knot strength), and behaviors when caring for patients. We used random effects to pool effect sizes.
Results: From 10,903 articles screened, we identified 219 eligible studies enrolling 7138 trainees, including 91 (42%) randomized trials. For comparisons with no intervention (n = 151 studies), pooled effect size (ES) favored simulation for outcomes of knowledge (1.18; N = 9 studies), skills time (1.13; N = 89), skills process (1.23; N = 114), skills product (1.09; N = 7), behavior time (1.15; N = 7), behavior process (1.22; N = 15), and patient effects (1.28; N = 1), all P < 0.05. When compared with nonsimulation instruction (n = 3 studies), results significantly favored simulation for outcomes of skills time (ES, 0.75) and skills process (ES, 0.54). Comparisons between different simulation interventions (n = 79 studies) clarified best practices. For example, in comparison with virtual reality, box trainers have similar effects for process skills outcomes and seem to be superior for outcomes of satisfaction and skills time.
Conclusions: Simulation-based laparoscopic surgery training of health professionals has large benefits when compared with no intervention and is moderately more effective than nonsimulation instruction.