Glaucoma accounts for 8% of global blindness and surgery remains an important treatment. We aimed to determine the impact of adding simulation-based surgical education for glaucoma.
We designed a randomised controlled, parallel-group trial. Those assessing outcomes were masked to group assignment. Fifty-one trainee ophthalmologists from six university training institutions in sub-Saharan Africa were enrolled by inclusion criteria of having performed no surgical trabeculectomies and were randomised. Those randomised to the control group received no placebo intervention, but received the training intervention after the initial 12-month follow-up period. The intervention was an intense simulation-based surgical training course over 1 week. The primary outcome measure was overall simulation surgical competency at 3 months.
Twenty-five were assigned to the intervention group and 26 to the control group, with 2 dropouts from the intervention group. Forty-nine were included in the final intention-to-treat analysis. Surgical competence at baseline was comparable between the arms. This increased to 30.4 (76.1%) and 9.8 (24.4%) for the intervention and the control group, respectively, 3 months after the training intervention for the intervention group, a difference of 20.6 points (95% CI 18.3 to 22.9, p<0.001). At 1 year, the mean surgical competency score of the intervention arm participants was 28.6 (71.5%), compared with 11.6 (29.0%) for the control (difference 17.0, 95% CI 14.8 to 19.4, p<0.001).
These results support the pursuit of financial, advocacy and research investments to establish simulation surgery training units and courses including instruction, feedback, deliberate practice and reflection with outcome measurement to enable trainee glaucoma surgeons to engage in intense simulation training for glaucoma surgery.