Robotic-assisted surgery learning is highly self-governance, albeit its flourishing. Novices of robotic-assisted surgery are usually trained by virtual reality simulators. This study aims to evaluate whether novices’ prior experiences of aiding robotic-assisted surgery, simulation on virtual reality or game-playing gives weight to their learning outcomes.
Novices’ attitudes towards robotic-assisted surgery and video game-playing experiences were investigated using a questionnaire. Voluntary novices (n = 70) comprising surgical trainees (first-year to sixth-year residents) and surgeons were then examined on a VR simulator. The simulator automatically generated examination scores. Questionnaires and examination scores were analysed using SPSS.
Participants’ prior experiences of aiding robotic-assisted surgery (p < .01) and having robotic surgical simulation within six months (p < .01) was associated with significantly higher VR simulator performance, but not prior video game-playing (p > .05). Resident participant years 3–5 performed significantly better than resident participant years 1–2, and 6 and visiting staff (p < .01).
When formal robotic surgical training is lacking, novices’ learning can be developed via both simulation and engaging in real cases. Formal robotic surgical training should be ideally introduced during the middle part of the residency period.