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Free Content Surgeons' experience of learning psychological skills: a preliminary evaluation of a psychological skills training course

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INTRODUCTION: A range of human factors have been shown to impact on surgical performance although little is known about the impact of training on the views of surgeons towards these factors or how receptive surgeons are to such training.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: This was an observational pilot study using a short questionnaire designed to elicit views of surgeons towards a range of human factors prior to, and immediately following, a course designed to address human factors in surgical performance. Focus groups were also conducted before and immediately after the course to elicit views.

RESULTS: Of all the human factors assessed, decision-making was rated on a visual analogue scale as having the biggest impact on performance both before and after the course. In general, views of human factors changed following the course, most notably an increase in the extent to which work stress, interpersonal difficulties and personality were believed to affect performance. Three themes emerged from the focus groups: (i) personal professional development; (ii) the relationship between trainer and trainee; and (iii) the changing perspective.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgeons from a range of specialties are receptive to training on the impact of human factors on performance and this study has shown that views may change following a course designed to address this. Further training to address the theory–practice gap is warranted in addition to an evaluation of its effectiveness.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Psychological and Health Sciences, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK 2: Department of Surgery, Worcester Royal Hospital, Worcester, UK 3: Terema, Haslemere, Surrey, UK 4: Department of Psychiatry, Worcestershire Mental Health Trust, Worcester, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England is the official journal of the College and is published eight times a year in January, March, April, May, July, September, October and November. The main aim of the journal is to publish high quality, peer-reviewed papers that relate to all branches of surgery.

    The Annals also includes letters and comments, a regular technical section, NICE news, controversial topics, CORESS feedback, book reviews and the best trainee presentations from England and Wales. The editorial board is composed of members of the College Council and experts from across the surgical specialties.

    Archive issues of the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England are available via the PubMed Central database

    To view articles that have been published online ahead of print please click here
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