A Comparative Study of Debriefer Versus Debriefee Distance Simulation Engagement

Published:November 24, 2022DOI:


      • Debriefers care much more than debriefees about nonverbals and become cognitively burdened by attempting to interpret in the moment.
      • Debriefers judge engagement by social climate, but social climate drives debriefee engagement.
      • Debriefees remember how they feel, while debriefers remember what they did.



      As distanced simulation continues to be widely utilized, the need for faculty development in distanced debriefing increases. In this study, we sought to explore similarities and differences in educator and learner perspectives of factors that influence engagement in healthcare simulation virtual debriefings.


      Eight learners and six educators were interviewed. Three cycles of analysis were conducted including initial qualitative thematic analysis (QTA), framework analysis (FA), and a second, focused QTA to explore FA findings.


      Notable coding frequency comparisons emerged and helped inform the qualitative research. The final QTA uncovered three themes: (a) Educators care much more about nonverbals and become cognitively burdened by attempting to interpret in the moment; (b) Educators judge engagement by social climate, but social tone drives learner engagement; (c) Learners remember how they feel, while educators remember what they did.


      Apparent differences in the loci of importance for educators and learners in distanced debriefings and potential consequences of designing education without uncovering these differences are discussed. Educator strategies for navigating these differences are offered and indications for further research needs are discussed.


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