Researchers say the same team-building and problem-solving skills support individuals while playing escape room simulation games can be used to help healthcare professionals improve their adherence to control measures. of infections.
Gracia Boseman and Kristy Causey, nurses on the staff of the Texas Veterans Health Care System, in 2017 created an escape room for high-impact zombie-themed infectious diseases as a way to increase attendance at education programs for the prevention and control of voluntary infections.
The escape room has led to a sharp increase in training attendance. Participation increased from an average of 20 clinical staff members per session to 189 clinical and non-clinical workers, training a total of more than 1,100 employees over three years. But the scenario Boseman and Causey created also led to greater adherence to infection control practices.
The results of a study of the program introduced on Monday during the 48th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology found a 61% increase in hand washing among participants in the escape room and 21% increase in the use of personal protective equipment.
“Health education and learning can be fun and still provide some amazing results,” said Causey, who serves as a simulation educator for CTVHCS.
A total of six different escape room training scenarios have been developed since 2017, with all but one focused on infection control during a fire.
For the escape room studied, participants were given a pandemic influenza scenario and were invited to choose the appropriate PPE to use before entering the escape room. Once inside, participants worked as a team to find clues about the disease within a time limit of 15 to 30 minutes.
When word spread about the popularity of escape room training, Causey said other Veterans Administration health systems have asked about how to set up their models. Causey and Boseman have provided consulting contributions to seven veteran health systems across the country to help them replicate the escape room as part of their training to prevent infections.
Causey said one of the biggest challenges for any system looking to create its own escape camera models is the need to keep their attention as an educational tool and stay on top of the subject trying to be transmitted in it. everything.
“With escape chambers there are a lot of different ways you can go down and you don’t really hold fire,” Causey said.
In an ironic turn, the escape room sessions scheduled for 2020 have been canceled due to COVID-19. Causey said those who had participated in the program before the pandemic were significantly more active in establishing infection control policies and procedures during COVID-19 preparedness activities such as the creation of test sites. drive-thru.
Using escape room simulations as an instructional tool for health care workers has been used by other providers in recent years. In 2017, nurses at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia has developed an escape room to help educate hospital staff about the appropriate care of patients with sepsis.
Boseman said plans are underway to resume October escape room classes, with the program expanded to larger spaces and to address other health emergency scenarios. He felt that the experience of going through a real-life pandemic would not diminish the appeal of participating in a fire escape room simulation.
But he said the health system was looking into the possibility of incorporating new modalities such as fun training tools, such as the development of scenarios similar to the popular “Hunt a Murderer” mystery mystery games.