In this article, we describe the preparation and execution of the first Research Consensus Summit (Summit) of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) held in January 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The goals of the Summit were to provide guidance for better simulation-related research, to broaden the scope of topics investigated, and to highlight the importance of simulation-related research.
An international Core Group (the authors of this article) worked with the SSH Research Committee to identify 10 topic areas relevant for future research that would be examined by the 10 Topic Groups composed of Topic Chairs and Topic Group Members. Each Topic Group prepared a monograph and slide presentation on their topic which was presented at the 2-day Summit. The audience provided feedback on each presentation. Based on this feedback, the Topic Groups revised their presentations and monographs for publication in this supplement to Simulation in Healthcare. The Core Group has synthesized an overview of the key Summit themes in this article.
In some groups, the agreement was that there is currently no consensus about the state of the science in certain topic aspects. Some key themes emerged from the Topic Groups. The conceptual and theoretical bases of simulation-related research, as well as the methods used and their methodological foundations, need to be more explicitly described in future publications. Although no single method is inherently better, the mix of research methods chosen should match the goal of each study. The impact of simulation, whether direct or indirect, needs to be assessed across different levels of training, and larger, more complex contexts need to be taken into account. When interpreting simulation-related research, the ecological validity of the results needs to be taken into consideration. The scope of simulation-related research can be widened from having simulation as the focus of research (research about simulation), to using simulation to investigate other research questions (research with simulation). Simulation-related research can benefit from an improved understanding of structural differences and similarities with other domains. The development of simulation equipment and concepts will benefit from applying known and available science-based design frameworks. Overall, the context of simulation-related research needs to be better understood. The progress of research depends on building overarching and sustainable research programs that relate individual studies with each other.
The Summit was successful in taking a snapshot of the state of the science. Future summits might explore these topics further, monitor progress, and address new topics.