Trauma assessment training with a patient simulator; a prospective, randomized study

Seong K. Lee, Manuel Pardo, David Gaba, Yasser Sowb, Rochelle Dicker, Erica M. Straus, Linda Khaw, Diane Morabito, Thomas M. Krummel, M. Margaret Knudson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Background Patient simulators are computer-controlled mannequins that may increase realism during trauma training by providing real-time changes in vital signs and physical findings during trauma scenarios. We hypothesized that trauma assessment training on a patient simulator would be as effective as training with a more traditional moulage patient/actor. Methods This study was conducted during a surgery intern orientation at two academic trauma centers. Interns (n = 60) attended a basic trauma course, and were then randomized to trauma assessment practice sessions with either the patient simulator (n = 30) or a moulage patient (n = 30). After practice sessions, interns were randomized a second time to an individual trauma assessment test on either the simulator or the moulage patient. Two surgeon-judges rated each intern live and on video for completion of 50 predetermined assessment objectives (total score) divided into sections (primary and secondary survey, general performance, diagnostic studies/procedures, and plan) and the identification and management of an acute neurologic deterioration in the test patient (event score). Multiple linear regression with random student effects was used to estimate the independent effects of all study variables. Results Within randomized groups, mean trauma assessment test scores for all simulator-trained interns were higher when compared with all moulage-trained interns (71 ± 8 vs. 66 ± 8, respectively; p = 0.02). Simulator training independently showed a small but statistically significant improvement in both the total score and the event score (+4.6 and +8.6, respectively; p < 0.05). Conclusion Use of a patient simulator to introduce trauma assessment training is feasible and compares favorably to training in a moulage setting. Continued research in this area of physician education is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-657
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)
  • Patient simulator
  • Randomized
  • Simulation
  • Trauma training


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