The negative effect of distraction on performance of robot-assisted surgical skills in medical students and residents

Irene H. Suh, Jung Hung Chien, Mukul Mukherjee, Shi Hyun Park, Dmitry Oleynikov, Joseph Ka-Chun Siu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background Modern surgical practice often requires multitasking in operating rooms, generally full of distractions. The purpose of this research was to investigate the effect of distraction on robot-assisted surgical skill performance in medical students and residents. Methods Fourteen subjects performed a suture-tying task with the da Vinci™ surgical system with distractive secondary tasks simultaneously. The time to task completion, speed and the total distance travelled were analysed. Two-way repeated-measures ANOVA were applied. The scores of secondary tasks were analysed. Results A significant secondary task effect was found with an increase of the time to task completion (p = 0.003) and decreased average speed (p < 0.001). The performance of secondary task for residents was significantly better than students. Conclusions The performance of a robot-assisted surgical task was negatively affected by secondary tasks. However, residents with more surgical experience demonstrated a larger attention capacity for multitasking. Therefore, understanding how medical trainees respond to the distractive secondary tasks while performing robot-assisted surgical task is important in developing a surgical training programme based on the concept of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-381
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • attention
  • cognitive distraction
  • da Vinci surgical system
  • surgical education
  • surgical performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Biophysics
  • Computer Science Applications


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