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Data informed simulation debriefing

By Victoria Brazil (@SocraticEM) and Andrew Coggins (@coggi33)

Most of us would like to improve our simulation debriefing skills, but data informed feedback on our debriefing performance is hard to find. Existing debriefing assessment tools like the OSAD and DASH offer some guidance as to what a ‘good debriefing’ looks like. But maybe there are quantitative measures of our debriefing performance that can help feedback and coaching? 

A study on this topic was recently published in Advances in Simulation-  Immediate faculty feedback using debriefing timing data and conversational diagramsIn this work, the team “explored the use of recording length of contributions during debriefings and use of conversational diagrams as a means of assessment of debriefing performance”.

The researchers observed simulation faculty leading debriefings with interdisciplinary learners who had participated in acute care scenarios: e.g., trauma, airway, sepsis, resuscitation. They measured debriefing time and length of individual contributions to the debriefing conversations, using a chess clock (see image below). Conversational diagrams were drawn in real-time, illustrating the patterns of dialogue. This technique builds on work from Peter Dieckmann – “The art and science of debriefing in simulation: Ideal and practice” – illustrating conversations in diagram form between debriefing participants.2

In reviewing their findings, the authors say they were struck by the predominance of debriefers talking more than participants. I’m not so surprised, and suspect that my own ‘chess clock’ would provide more insight than I would like 😊

For their primary aim – to enhance feedback to debriefers – the data points were used as a focus for a feedback conversation with the debriefer after each scenario. These faculty members reported high satisfaction with the quantitative data (timing and diagrams) as an aid to feedback. One wonders if those observing and giving the feedback might also have had just as much impact on their practice?

For those interested in a conversation with Andrew Coggins (first author), this episode of Simulcast offers a deeper dive. This is an interesting chat that might just change your debriefing practice. 


1. Coggins, A., Hong, S.S., Baliga, K. et al. Immediate faculty feedback using debriefing timing data and conversational diagrams. Adv Simul 7, 7 (2022).

2. Dieckmann P, Molin Friis S, Lippert A, Ostergaard D. The art and science of debriefing in simulation: Ideal and practice. Med Teach. 2009;31(7):e287-94.

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