Objective assessment of technical surgical skills

P. D. van Hove, G. J. M. Tuijthof, E. G. G. Verdaasdonk, L. P. S. Stassen, J. Dankelman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

356 Citations (Scopus)


Surgeons are increasingly being scrutinized for their performance and there is growing interest in objective assessment of technical skills. The purpose of this study was to review all evidence for these methods, in order to provide a guideline for use in clinical practice. A systematic search was performed using PubMed and Web of Science for studies addressing the validity and reliability of methods for objective skills assessment within surgery and gynaecology only. The studies were assessed according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine levels of evidence. In total 104 studies were included, of which 20 (19.2 per cent) had a level of evidence 1b or 2b. In 28 studies (26.9 per cent), the assessment method was used in the operating room. Virtual reality simulators and Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) have been studied most. Although OSATS is seen as the standard for skills assessment, only seven studies, with a low level of evidence, addressed its use in the operating room. Based on currently available evidence, most methods of skills assessment are valid for feedback or measuring progress of training, but few can be used for examination or credentialing. The purpose of the assessment determines the choice of method
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-987
JournalBritish journal of surgery
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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