SMTL were invited to the 4th RCSEd All Wales Medical Student Surgical Research symposium in October 2013 to judge poster and oral presentations and to present the SMTL award for best basic science paper.  The winners were Lloyd Evans and Jason Chai from Cardiff University for their poster "The Diagnostic Dial: prompting doctors to think about differential diagnosis".


The ‘Surgical Sieve’ remains a platform upon which diagnostic thinking can be structured, but advances in the aetiology of disease processes led the authors to develop a ‘Diagnostic Dial’, a handheld device that prompts the user to consider interactions between pathological processes, anatomical systems and patient factors in order to generate clinically relevant and patient-centred ideas about medical and surgical diagnoses.

Twenty-seven fourth year medical students were randomised to two groups, one being taught the use of the ‘Diagnostic Dial’ and the other the ‘Surgical Sieve’. All participants were then assessed using two clinical vignettes and marked using a standardised approach. Participants were also asked to give feedback about the aid used.

The analyses showed a non-significant difference between the two methods in terms of assessment and acceptability of the device, but the authors acknowledge that the numbers were small in this pilot experiment.

Based on the results of this study ethical approval has been applied for to carry out a formal prospective study with more participants, and an improved process of assessment including, a “pre-intervention” assessment to measure baseline diagnostic skills.


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