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Lack of standardisation between specialties for human factors content in postgraduate training: an analysis of specialty curricula in the UK
  1. Paul R Greig1,
  2. Helen Higham1,2,
  3. Emma Vaux3,4
  1. 1Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Department of Renal Medicine, Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Reading, UK
  4. 4Royal College of Physicians, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul R Greig, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK; paul.greig{at}

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It is well recognised that a significant proportion of errors involving trainee doctors result from failures of non-technical skills (NTS),1 which occur at least as frequently as knowledge and technical errors.2 Regardless of background, all trainees need generic skills of leadership, decision-making, team-working and resource management.3 It might, therefore, be expected that curricula for different specialties would use similar definitions and teaching methods to specify NTS standards. We have performed an analysis of medical training curricula to determine the extent to which different medical specialties set training objectives in NTS, and to seek trends in the prominence with which these skills feature.


All hospital-based medical, surgical and critical-care specialties were obtained in mid-2013, along with each curriculum's immediate predecessor (where available). The curricula were initially searched for the core keywords ‘non-technical skills’, ‘situational awareness’ and ‘human factors’, as well as a list of secondary keywords (generated by a modified Delphi process) grouped under headings ‘task management’, ‘team working’, ‘situational awareness’ and ‘decision making’. The list was refined over two generations before consensus was reached. Each curriculum …

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  • Contributors PRG was responsible for the design of the experiment, data collection and drafting of the manuscript. HH and EV have made important contributions and amendments to the drafting of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional unpublished data is available from this study.

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