Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Cambridge (2008) Proc Physiol Soc 11, C33

Oral Communications

A controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of the Human Patient Simulator as an educational tool for teaching respiratory physiology

L. K. Hughes1, E. Lloyd1, J. R. Harris1

1. Physiology & Pharmacology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


We have previously reported (Lloyd et al., 2006) that use of the Human Patient Simulator (HPS; METI, Florida) can enhance traditional approaches to teaching physiology. HPS scenarios are popular with students (Euliano, 2001) but randomised controlled trials (e.g. Wong et al., 2007) have failed to demonstrate significant improvement in academic performance following exposure to HPS-based physiology teaching compared with other teaching methods. This study evaluates the effectiveness of the HPS as an educational tool for teaching respiratory physiology, in comparison with tutorial teaching. First year dental undergraduates were allocated to attend either a tutorial (control group; n = 34) or the HPS session (HPS group; n = 36). All students completed the same written MCQ test under examination conditions two weeks before (pre-teaching test; pre-TT), and then immediately after the teaching session (post-TT). The test required interpretation of data such as arterial oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and partial pressures of blood gases. All test papers were marked electronically. Students in the control group had 30-min of private study to work through respiratory data interpretation and True-False questions. The answers were then discussed in a 1-hr tutorial (in groups of 10 students) with the students’ regular tutors, all of whom were experienced teachers. The HPS group received a 1-hr respiratory simulation session (in groups of ca. 20 students) led by an experienced HPS teacher followed by 15-min private study to analyse the simulated data. This was followed by a staff-led, 15-min review session. All students then completed the post-TT. To ensure equality of opportunity, all students attended the other format of teaching after completion of the post-TT. Test scores were expressed as a percentage of the maximum mark obtainable averaged for each group of students ± SEM. There was no significant difference between the pre-TT scores for the two groups (p = 0.24, unpaired t-test). There was a significant increase in performance of the HPS group (post-TT mean score 53.7 ± 3.0 vs. pre-TT mean score 40.3 ± 2.8; p = 0.0006, paired t-test). There was also an improvement in performance of the control group (post-TT mean score 51.5 ± 3.6 vs. pre-TT mean score 44.6 ± 2.4), however this did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.07, paired t-test). We conclude that the respiratory HPS session was more effective than the tutorial in improving students’ academic performance.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements