Investigating mental rehearsal’s applicability in guiding independent E-learning (IMAGINE) of eye examination skills during the pandemic
COVID-19’s infection control policies have hindered the Deliberate Practice of clinical examinations. Guided Mental Rehearsal (GMR) may overcome this obstacle by facilitating independent, repetitive practice. Underpinned by the ‘Motor Simulation Theory,’ GMR reinforces similar neuro-circuit activations during physical practice and was proven effective in surgical training.
This prospective, randomized controlled study evaluated the efficacy of GMR versus ‘peer-learning’ of Confrontational Visual Field Examination (CVFE). Third-year medical-students without clinical Ophthalmology experience were recruited. Controls (n = 40) watched an e-learning instructional video (8-min CVFE tutorial) followed by 6-min of ‘peer-learning.’ GMR-students (n = 40) had ‘peer-learning’ replaced by a 6-min GMR audio-recording (CVFE running commentary). Pre-test and post-test MCQs were administered to determine baseline knowledge and knowledge acquisition, respectively. 28 controls and 26 GMR-students performed CVFE on simulated patients with right homonymous hemianopia. Four Ophthalmologists graded their performances using a checklist-based marking scheme.
Both groups did not exhibit a significant difference in pre-test scores (8.550 vs. 7.947, p = 0.266); outcome of sub-group analysis of CVFE-performing candidates was similar (8.214 vs. 7.833, p = 0.561). Post-test scores were significantly higher than pre-test in both groups (all p < .001), without inter-group difference (14.000 vs. 15.000, p = 0.715). GMR-group had significantly higher scores on CVFE performance than controls (85.354 vs. 73.679%, p = .001).
GMR improved psychomotor but not cognitive aspect of learning CVFE. This may be attributable to GMR’s theoretical resemblance with physical practice, with additional expert guidance. By enabling independent learning, GMR may also reduce the demand for teaching manpower and thus education cost in the future.