The distracted intravenous access (DIVA) test

Samantha Smith (Lead / Corresponding author), Victoria Tallentire, Morwenna Wood, Helen Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The General Medical Council states that all medical graduates must be able to carry out practical procedures, including peripheral venous cannulation, safely and effectively. Teaching and assessments within primary medical training tend to focus on safety rather than 'effectiveness' or technical competence. This study aimed to develop and evaluate a test of automaticity of peripheral venous cannulation skill, appropriate to the level of a medical student. 

Methods: Two researchers developed the distracted intravenous access (DIVA) test. Three components are assessed simultaneously: ability to cannulate a plastic arm manikin, performance in an arithmetic test and speed of completion. Volunteers were recruited from three groups: novices (fourth-year medical students), intermediates (foundation year-1 doctors) and experts (anaesthetic and emergency medicine consultants and trainees). Immediately following the test, volunteers completed a questionnaire. 

Results: Mean scores differed between the three groups: novices (47.7%), intermediates (73.4%), experts (84.4%). Differences were statistically significant (p<0.0005). The majority of participants found the test to be enjoyable (78%) and useful (76%). More students agreed that the test was fair (78%) than doctors (38%), but this difference was not statistically significant. 

Discussion: This study presents a feasible method of testing medical students' automaticity when performing peripheral venous cannulation. It has provided evidence of the construct validity and acceptability of the test. The authors suggest that clinical tutors consider offering the test as a formative assessment to final-year medical students in order to familiarise them with the level of proficiency required to perform peripheral venous cannulation when distracted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-324
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number5
Early online date21 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Review and Exam Preparation


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