Objective: Otoscopy is a frequently performed procedure and competency in this skill is important across many specialties. We aim to systematically review current medical educational evidence for training of handheld otoscopy skills.
Methods: Following the PRISMA guideline, studies reporting on training and/or assessment of handheld otoscopy were identified searching the following databases: PubMed, Embase, OVID, the Cochrane Library, PloS Medicine, Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ), and Web of Science. Two reviewers extracted data on study design, training intervention, educational outcomes, and results. Quality of educational evidence was assessed along with classification according to Kirkpatrick’s model of educational outcomes.
Results: The searches yielded a total of 6064 studies with a final inclusion of 33 studies for the qualitative synthesis. Handheld otoscopy training could be divided into workshops, physical simulators, web-based training/e-learning, and smartphone-enabled otoscopy. Workshops were the most commonly described educational intervention and typically consisted of lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and training on peers. Almost all studies reported a favorable effect on either learner attitude, knowledge, or skills. The educational quality of the studies was reasonable but the educational outcomes were mostly evaluated on the lower Kirkpatrick levels with only a single study determining the effects of training on actual change in the learner behavior.
Conclusion: Overall, it seems that any systematic approach to training of handheld otoscopy is beneficial in training regardless of learner level, but the heterogeneity of the studies makes comparisons between studies difficult and the relative effect sizes of the interventions could not be determined.