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Peer Review

Measuring Vital Signs

by Mark Shwartz


Overall Numeric Rating:

3.75 stars
Content Quality: 3.75 stars
Effectiveness: 3.75 stars
Ease of Use: 3.75 stars
Reviewed: Jun 12, 2009 by Health Sciences
Overview: The topic covered by the learning resource is a demonstration of the method of taking blood pressure, radial and brachial pulses, and the respiratory rate. The resource is a YouTube video of 7 minutes and 50 seconds in length. The author is Dr. Mark Shwartz from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.There is no glossary of terms included. In general, the learning goal is the following: the learner will be able to determine what steps are necessary to measure blood pressure, pulse, and respirations. There are no obvious costs other than having a computer on which to view the video. Key words: blood pressure determination; blood pressure; blood pressure monitoring, ambulatory; blood pressure; pulse; and pulse rate.
Type of Material: The video is classified as a simulation.
Recommended Uses: This learning resource can be used to enhance the classroom demonstration of the learning activities described, as well as a homework assignment to prepare for clinical lab or to review after clinical lab. It could also be used as a tutorial for students who do not understand the steps.
Technical Requirements: The user will need a computer with broadband Internet access, a web browser, Adobe Flash Player, and speakers to use the learning resource.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The learner will be able to accurately identify the steps taken to measure blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate.
Target Student Population: The target audience includes college students in medicine and other health related majors and students in nurse aide classes.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Prerequisite knowledge includes a general understanding of anatomy and physiology. Medical terminology, for example, "radial" pulse is used to explain the procedure.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: This is a demonstration of obtaining vital signs on a normal healthy volunteer with some discussion on what might be found if orthostatic hypotension is an issue. The majority of the video is focused on palpating and auscultating blood pressure, including a brief description of how to assess for orthostatic hypotension. A brief overview of obtaining pulse and respirations is also provided at the end, although little is said about these vital signs in comparison to the blood pressure. The methods presented are not typical of obtaining vital signs in a clinical setting, but are more valuable in an academic setting.
Concerns: That video is a demonstration by a physician getting vital signs (although the introductory lines indicate that the physician intends to do a complete male physical examination and a breast and pelvic examination of a female, and not vital signs). The demonstration is typical of an educational setting, but less applicable in a clinical setting. Nothing is said about temperature (which is the other commonly assessed vital sign) or about pain (which is often considered to be the "fifth" vital sign). The video is simply a component of a lesson; not an entire lesson. For example, to make the lesson interactive, the instructor should consider additing some review questions or learning activities in which the students identify locations fo the body landmarks described in the video.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The material may be used as a source to demonstrate the actual method of measuring vital signs. The learner should be able to achieve the learning goal; however, an actual practice should follow the viewing of the video. Compared to other methods, the video provided another method of describing a basic skill. The explanation of taking pulse and respiratory rate could use some enhancement such as an illustration (drawing)to accompany the explanation. Other than watching the video, the learner is not involved in any interactive process.
Concerns: Learning could be enhanced by use of some type of interactive process. However, this could be achieved with an actual practice session following the video. This would serve as a forum for questions and would reinforce the content. The video demonstrates one component of vital signs - the blood pressure. The demonstration of pulse and respirations is brief and non-technical.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The video is presented in an easy, step-by-step method familiar to students. The site is easy to navigate once the specific video is located among the others listed. Instructions are not needed. There are no distracting elements.
Concerns: The student would have to have some knowledge of words such as "brachial" and "radial" since such words are used.

Other Issues and Comments: What is in the video was done in a professional manner. More information about vital signs (beyond blood pressure) would be helpful.