Can learning to sustain life be BASIC? Teaching for the initial management of the critically ill in Australia and New Zealand

A. E. Douglas, A. Holley, A. Udy, J. Lipman, C. D. Gomersall, G. M. Joynt, R. C. Freebairn, R. J. Boots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Commonly in Australia and New Zealand, initial intensive care support of critically ill patients is by non-intensive care trained medical and nursing staff. Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care (BASIC) is an internationally run short course to assist practitioners to gain knowledge and skills to manage the early hours of critical illness. The aim of this study was to assess the performance and acceptance of the BASIC course as conducted in an Australian metropolitan teaching hospital and a major regional centre in New Zealand. Performance on pre- and post-course multiple choice examinations and the overall course assessment by all participants attending between 2005 and 2009 was analysed. Of 796 participants, 338 (42%) were in Australia and 458 (58%) in New Zealand. Compared to New Zealand, Australian non-intensive care consultants and junior medical staff attended more commonly at 9% vs 4% and 62% vs 42% respectively, while nurses more frequently attended in New Zealand (47% compared to 12%, P <0.001). The pre-course open book examination result averaged 79% (95% confidence interval 78 to 80) and the post-course closed book examination was 64% (95% confidence interval 63 to 65). The post-course examination score was predicted by pre-course examination score (β=0.22, 95% confidence interval 0.17 to 0.27), nursing occupation, (β=-3.96, 95% confidence interval -5.03 to -2.90) and the availability of a scenario-based simulation module (β=0.22, 95% confidence interval 0.17 to 0.27, R 2=0.38, P <0.001). Participants generally found they had learned a great deal from the program and that the course material was of an appropriate level. The BASIC course was found to be a positive learning experience for health care practitioners inexperienced in the management of the critically ill.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1051
Number of pages9
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Life support training

Cite this