gms | German Medical Science

Research in Medical Education – Chances and Challenges International Conference

20.05. - 22.05.2009, Heidelberg

The social side of simulation in medicine: Creating, recognizing and using learning opportunities

Meeting Abstract

Research in Medical Education - Chances and Challenges 2009. Heidelberg, 20.-22.05.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09rmeE1

doi: 10.3205/09rme21, urn:nbn:de:0183-09rme217

Published: May 5, 2009

© 2009 Dieckmann et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Background: While manikin-based simulation is spreading only few studies investigate the social processes in simulation courses that allow for or hinder reaching the goals of the simulation activity.

Questions: What makes simulation-based training relevant for participants and how can simulation instructors support their learning?

Methods: Semistructured interviews and content analysis in Germany and Switzerland [1] and Denmark [2] with simulation instructors and participants [3].

Results: Simulation-based courses can be divided into different but interrelated modules for analytical purposes: setting introduction, simulator briefing, theory modules, scenario briefings, scenarios, debriefings, breaks and course endings. Problems in one module can affect other modules (e.g. unclear instructions during the scenario briefing might make it difficult for participants to understand the situation and to be open for the analysis during debriefing). The relevance that participants see in engaging in the simulation is largely influenced by the working contract between participants and instructors and only in parts by the physical characteristics of the simulator and the simulation environment. The group dynamics, clearly defined goals, time to familiarize themselves with the environment in the situation were amongst the social factors influencing the success of simulation-based training and relevant for building the simulation competence needed to effectively use this tool.

Conclusions: The interactions between those involved in simulation-based courses can allow for or hinder reaching the goals of the simulation endeavor – depending whether they stay within the agreed upon frames or leave them. Considering the social side of simulation-based learning processes helps in improving why (or why not) simulation works. Qualitative research methods help in identifying key issues in this regard.


Dieckmann P. "Ein bisschen wirkliche Echtheit simulieren": Über Simulatorsettings in der Anästhesiologie. Oldenburg: Universität Oldenburg: 2005. Zugänglich unter: External link
Molin Friis S, Dieckmann P, Østergaard D, Lippert A. Goals, success-factors and barriers for simulation-based learning environments: A qualitative interview-study. Simulation & Gaming. SESAM 2008. Hertfordshire; University of Hertfordshire; 2008.
Dieckmann P, Manser T, Wehner T, Rall M. Reality and Fiction Cues in Medical Patient Simulation. An Interview study with Anesthesiologists. J Cogn Eng Decis Mak. 2007;1(2):148-168. DOI: 10.1518/155534307X232820. External link