Objective: Doctors’ confidence in their actions is important for clinical performance. While static confidence has been widely studied, no study has examined how confidence changes dynamically during clinical tasks.
Method: The confidence of novice (n = 10) and experienced (n = 10) trainee anaesthetists was measured during two simulated anaesthetic crises, bradycardia (easy task) and failure to ventilate (difficult task).
Results: As expected, confidence was high in the novice and experienced groups in the easy task. What was surprising, however, was that confidence during the difficult task decreased for both groups, despite appropriate performance.
Conclusions: Given that confidence affects performance, it is alarming that doctors who may be acting unsupervised should lose dynamic confidence so quickly. Training is needed to ensure that confidence does not decrease inappropriately during a correctly performed procedure. Whether time on task interacts with incorrect performance to produce further deficits in confidence should now be investigated.
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Competing interests: none declared.
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