Use of a Portable Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) System to Examine Team Experience During Crisis Event Management in Clinical Simulations

Xu, J.1, Slagle, J.2, Banerjee, A.3, Bracken, B.4, and Weinger, M.5

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (05 March 2019)

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the utilization of a portable functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) system, the fNIRS PioneerTM, to examine team experience in high-fidelity simulation-based crisis event management (CEM) training for anesthesiologists in operating rooms.

Background: Effective evaluation of team performance and experience in CEM simulations is essential for healthcare training and research. Neurophysiological measures with wearable devices can provide useful indicators of team experience to compliment traditional self-report, observer ratings, and behavioral performance measures. fNIRS measured brain blood oxygenation levels and neural synchrony can be used as indicators of workload and team engagement, which is vital for optimal team performance.

Methods: Thirty-three anesthesiologists, who were attending CEM training in two-person teams, participated in this study. The participants varied in their expertise level and the simulation scenarios varied in difficulty level. The oxygenated and de-oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO and HbR) levels in the participants’ prefrontal cortex were derived from data recorded by a portable one-channel fNIRS system worn by all participants throughout CEM training. Team neural synchrony was measured by HbO/HbR wavelet transformation coherence (WTC). Observer-rated workload and self-reported workload and mood were also collected.

Results: At the individual level, the pattern of HbR level corresponded to changes of workload for the individuals in different roles during different phases of a scenario; but this was not the case for HbO level. Thus, HbR level may be a better indicator for individual workload in the studied setting. However, HbR level was insensitive to differences in scenario difficulty and did not correlate with observer-rated or self-reported workload. At the team level, high levels of HbO and HbR WTC were observed during active teamwork. Furthermore, HbO WTC was sensitive to levels of scenario difficulty.

Conclusion: This study showed that it was feasible to use a portable fNIRS system to study workload and team engagement in high-fidelity clinical simulations. However, more work is needed to establish the sensitivity, reliability, and validity of fNIRS measures as indicators of team experience.

Faculty of Science, Center for Psychological Sciences, Zhejiang University
Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Charles River Analytics
Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System

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