Effect of distractions on operative performance and ability to multitask--a case for deliberate practice.


Journal Article

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To measure the effect of distractions on the operative performance and analyze if practice and experience are the factors that can help to overcome the distractions. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective observational study. METHODS: Ten postgraduate year (PGY) 2-6 residents and two faculty members from Johns Hopkins' otolaryngology department were recruited and asked to deepen the dissection at the sinodural angle on the Voxel-man mastoidectomy simulator. They were asked to perform the task under four conditions: 1) no distractors, 2) differentiation and counting of a specific alarm sound among different sounds played in the background while performing the surgical task, 3) simultaneous performance of simple arithmetic task of moderate difficulty, and 4) simultaneous performance of the task with both sets of distractors combined. RESULTS: Time taken for the task (P = .02) and error scores (P = .002) increased under the third and fourth conditions. The ability to multitask and response to surgical and cognitive tasks improved with increasing level of experience of the participants. CONCLUSIONS: Distractions lead to impaired dexterity and an increase in the incidence of errors. However, experience and deliberate practice can help achieve the ability to multitask without compromising the operative performance.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ahmed, A; Ahmad, M; Stewart, CM; Francis, HW; Bhatti, NI

Published Date

  • April 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 125 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 837 - 841

PubMed ID

  • 25073874

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25073874

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1531-4995

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/lary.24856


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States