The state of distance healthcare simulation during the COVID-19 pandemic: results of an international survey


C Buléon, J Caton, YS Park, S Eller, M Buyck, S Kardong-Edgren, BM Walsh, IT Gross, J Maxworthy, G Reedy, and JC Palaganas. 2022. “The state of distance healthcare simulation during the COVID-19 pandemic: results of an international survey.” Adv Simul (Lond), 7, 1, Pp. 10.


BACKGROUND: The coronavirus pandemic continues to shake the embedded structures of traditional in-person education across all learning levels and across the globe. In healthcare simulation, the pandemic tested the innovative and technological capabilities of simulation programs, educators, operations staff, and administration. This study aimed to answer the question: What is the state of distance simulation practice in 2021? METHODS: This was an IRB-approved, 34-item open survey for any profession involved in healthcare simulation disseminated widely and internationally in seven languages from January 14, 2021, to March 3, 2021. Development followed a multistep process of expert design, testing, piloting, translation, and recruitment. The survey asked questions to understand: Who was using distance simulation? What driving factors motivated programs to initiate distance sim? For what purposes was distance sim being used? What specific types or modalities of distance simulation were occurring? How was it being used (i.e., modalities, blending of technology and resources and location)? How did the early part of the pandemic differ from the latter half of 2020 and early 2021? What information would best support future distance simulation education? Data were cleaned, compiled, and analyzed for dichotomized responses, reporting frequencies, proportions, as well as a comparison of response proportions. RESULTS: From 32 countries, 618 respondents were included in the analysis. The findings included insights into the prevalence of distance simulation before, during, and after the pandemic; drivers for using distance simulation; methods and modalities of distance simulation; and staff training. The majority of respondents (70%) reported that their simulation center was conducting distance simulation. Significantly more respondents indicated long-term plans for maintaining a hybrid format (82%), relative to going back to in-person simulation (11%, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: This study gives a perspective into the rapid adaptation of the healthcare simulation community towards distance teaching and learning in reaction to a radical and quick change in education conditions and environment caused by COVID-19, as well as future directions to pursue understanding and support of distance simulation.