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Simulation-based assessments in health professional education: a systematic review

Authors Ryall T, Judd BK, Gordon CJ

Received 19 July 2015

Accepted for publication 10 December 2015

Published 22 February 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 69—82

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S92695

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Mahima Ashok

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Tayne Ryall,1 Belinda K Judd,2,3 Christopher J Gordon3

1Physiotherapy Department, Canberra Hospital, ACT Health, Canberra, ACT, 2Faculty of Health Sciences, 3Sydney Nursing School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Introduction: The use of simulation in health professional education has increased rapidly over the past 2 decades. While simulation has predominantly been used to train health professionals and students for a variety of clinically related situations, there is an increasing trend to use simulation as an assessment tool, especially for the development of technical-based skills required during clinical practice. However, there is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of using simulation for the assessment of competency. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to examine simulation as an assessment tool of technical skills across health professional education.
Methods: A systematic review of Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (Medline), and Web of Science databases was used to identify research studies published in English between 2000 and 2015 reporting on measures of validity, reliability, or feasibility of simulation as an assessment tool. The McMasters Critical Review for quantitative studies was used to determine methodological value on all full-text reviewed articles. Simulation techniques using human patient simulators, standardized patients, task trainers, and virtual reality were included.
Results: A total of 1,064 articles were identified using search criteria, and 67 full-text articles were screened for eligibility. Twenty-one articles were included in the final review. The findings indicated that simulation was more robust when used as an assessment in combination with other assessment tools and when more than one simulation scenario was used. Limitations of the research papers included small participant numbers, poor methodological quality, and predominance of studies from medicine, which preclude any definite conclusions.
Conclusion: Simulation has now been embedded across a range of health professional education and it appears that simulation-based assessments can be used effectively. However, the effectiveness as a stand-alone assessment tool requires further research.

Keywords: health care, technical skills, competency, students

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