ABSTRACT: Randomized controlled trials of simulation-based interventions in Emergency Medicine: a methodological review
The number of trials assessing Simulation-Based Medical Education (SBME) interventions has rapidly expanded. Many studies show that potential flaws in design, conduct and reporting of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) can bias their results. We conducted a methodological review of RCTs assessing a SBME in Emergency Medicine (EM) and examined their methodological characteristics. We searched MEDLINE via PubMed for RCT that assessed a simulation intervention in EM, published in 6 general and internal medicine and in the top 10 EM journals. The Cochrane Collaboration risk of Bias tool was used to assess risk of bias, intervention reporting was evaluated based on the “template for intervention description and replication” checklist, and methodological quality was evaluated by the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument. Reports selection and data extraction was done by 2 independents researchers. From 1394 RCTs screened, 68 trials assessed a SBME intervention. They represent one quarter of our sample. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the most frequent topic (81%). Random sequence generation and allocation concealment were performed correctly in 66 and 49% of trials. Blinding of participants and assessors was performed correctly in 19 and 68%. Risk of attrition bias was low in three-quarters of the studies (n = 51). Risk of selective reporting bias was unclear in nearly all studies. The mean MERQSI score was of 13.4/18.4% of the reports provided a description allowing the intervention replication. Trials assessing simulation represent one quarter of RCTs in EM. Their quality remains unclear, and reproducing the interventions appears challenging due to reporting issues.