Structure and Outcomes of Educational Programs for Training Non-electroencephalographers in Performing and Screening Adult EEG: A Systematic Review

By Julie Kromm, Kirsten M. Fiest, Ayham Alkhachroum, Colin Josephson, Andreas Kramer & Nathalie Jette
First Online: 16 February 2021

To qualitatively and quantitatively summarize curricula, teaching methods, and effectiveness of educational programs for training bedside care providers (non-experts) in the performance and screening of adult electroencephalography (EEG) for nonconvulsive seizures and other patterns.

PRISMA methodological standards were followed. MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, CINAHL, WOS, Scopus, and MedEdPORTAL databases were searched from inception until February 26, 2020 with no restrictions. Abstract and full-text review was completed in duplicate. Studies were included if they were original research; involved non-experts performing, troubleshooting, or screening adult EEG; and provided qualitative descriptions of curricula and teaching methods and/or quantitative assessment of non-experts (vs gold standard EEG performance by neurodiagnostic technologists or interpretation by neurophysiologists). Data were extracted in duplicate. A content analysis and a meta-narrative review were performed.

Of 2430 abstracts, 35 studies were included. Sensitivity and specificity of seizure identification varied from 38 to 100% and 65 to 100% for raw EEG; 40 to 93% and 38 to 95% for quantitative EEG, and 95 to 100% and 65 to 85% for sonified EEG, respectively. Non-expert performance of EEG resulted in statistically significant reduced delay (86 min, p < 0.0001; 196 min, p < 0.0001; 667 min, p < 0.005) in EEG completion and changes in management in approximately 40% of patients. Non-experts who were trained included physicians, nurses, neurodiagnostic technicians, and medical students. Numerous teaching methods were utilized and often combined, with instructional and hands-on training being most common.

Several different bedside providers can be educated to perform and screen adult EEG, particularly for the purpose of diagnosing nonconvulsive seizures. While further rigorous research is warranted, this review demonstrates several potential bridges by which EEG may be integrated into the care of critically ill patients.