Intravenous catheter training system: Computer-based education versus traditional learning methods

Scott A. Engum, Pamela Jeffries, Lisa Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Background: Virtual reality simulators allow trainees to practice techniques without consequences, reduce potential risk associated with training, minimize animal use, and help to develop standards and optimize procedures. Current intravenous (IV) catheter placement training methods utilize plastic arms, however, the lack of variability can diminish the educational stimulus for the student. This study compares the effectiveness of an interactive, multimedia, virtual reality computer IV catheter simulator with a traditional laboratory experience of teaching IV venipuncture skills to both nursing and medical students. Methods: A randomized, pretest-posttest experimental design was employed. A total of 163 participants, 70 baccalaureate nursing students and 93 third-year medical students beginning their fundamental skills training were recruited. The students ranged in age from 20 to 55 years (mean 25). Fifty-eight percent were female and 68% percent perceived themselves as having average computer skills (25% declaring excellence). The methods of IV catheter education compared included a traditional method of instruction involving a scripted self-study module which involved a 10-minute videotape, instructor demonstration, and hands-on-experience using plastic mannequin arms. The second method involved an interactive multimedia, commercially made computer catheter simulator program utilizing virtual reality (CathSim). Results: The pretest scores were similar between the computer and the traditional laboratory group. There was a significant improvement in cognitive gains, student satisfaction, and documentation of the procedure with the traditional laboratory group compared with the computer catheter simulator group. Both groups were similar in their ability to demonstrate the skill correctly. Conclusions: This evaluation and assessment was an initial effort to assess new teaching methodologies related to intravenous catheter placement and their effects on student learning outcomes and behaviors. Technology alone is not a solution for stand alone IV catheter placement education. A traditional learning method was preferred by students. The combination of these two methods of education may further enhance the trainee's satisfaction and skill acquisition level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Basic clinical skills
  • Computer simulation
  • Intravenous catheter training
  • Intravenous therapy
  • Undergraduate medical education
  • Venipuncture skills
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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