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Experiences of medical practitioners in the Australian Defence Force on live tissue trauma training
  1. Adam Mahoney1,
  2. M C Reade2,3 and
  3. M Moffat4
  1. 12nd General Health Battalion, Australian Army, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Joint Health Command, Australian Defence Force, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, Dundee, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj Adam Mahoney, 2nd General Health Battalion, Australian Army, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia; adam.mahoney{at}


Introduction Care of battle casualties is a central role of military medical practitioners. Historically, certain trauma procedural skills have been learnt through live tissue training. However, faced with opposition from community members and academics, who argue equivalence of non-animal alternatives, this is now being phased out. This study explores Australian military medical practitioners’ experiences of and attitudes towards live tissue training.

Method We performed a phenomenologically driven qualitative exploration of individuals’ experiences of live tissue trauma training. 32 medical officers volunteered for the study. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 practitioners (60% Army, 20% Air Force, 20% Navy; 33% surgical, 53% critical care, 13% general practice). Qualitative data were subjected to content analysis, with key themes identified using manual and computer-assisted coding.

Results Live tissue training was valued by military medical practitioners, particularly because of the realistic feel of tissues and physiological responsiveness to treatment. Learner-perceived value of live tissue training was higher for complex skills and those requiring delicate tissue handling. 100% of surgeons and critical care doctors regarded live tissue as the only suitable model for learning repair of penetrating cardiac injury. Live tissue training was felt to enhance self-efficacy, particularly for rarely applied skills. Though conscious of the social and ethical context of live tissue training, >90% of participants reported positive emotional responses to live tissue training.

Conclusion In contrast to published research, live tissue training was thought by participants to possess characteristics that are not yet replicable using alternative learning aids. The experienced positive values of live tissue training should inform the decision to move towards non-animal alternatives.

  • medical education & training
  • trauma management
  • surgery

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  • Contributors AM planned, conducted and reported upon the study. He is the guarantor for the study content. MCR advised on the design and conduct of the study and edited the report. MM supervised AM in his planning and conduct of the study and edited the report.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the Departments of Defence and Veterans Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee. All participants provided written consent prior to interview and were provided with a Participant Information Sheet outlining the proposed interview content and ways in which interview data might be used.

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

  • Data availability statement Interview transcripts contain data that may allow identification of study participants and therefore only deidentified quotations will be provided upon reasonable request.

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