Technology-enhanced simulation in emergency medicine: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Jonathan S. Ilgen, Jonathan Sherbino, David A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Objectives Technology-enhanced simulation is used frequently in emergency medicine (EM) training programs. Evidence for its effectiveness, however, remains unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of technology-enhanced simulation for training in EM and identify instructional design features associated with improved outcomes by conducting a systematic review. Methods The authors systematically searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, ERIC, PsychINFO, Scopus, key journals, and previous review bibliographies through May 2011. Original research articles in any language were selected if they compared simulation to no intervention or another educational activity for the purposes of training EM health professionals (including student and practicing physicians, midlevel providers, nurses, and prehospital providers). Reviewers evaluated study quality and abstracted information on learners, instructional design (curricular integration, feedback, repetitive practice, mastery learning), and outcomes. Results From a collection of 10,903 articles, 85 eligible studies enrolling 6,099 EM learners were identified. Of these, 56 studies compared simulation to no intervention, 12 compared simulation with another form of instruction, and 19 compared two forms of simulation. Effect sizes were pooled using a random-effects model. Heterogeneity among these studies was large (I2 ≥ 50%). Among studies comparing simulation to no intervention, pooled effect sizes were large (range = 1.13 to 1.48) for knowledge, time, and skills and small to moderate for behaviors with patients (0.62) and patient effects (0.43; all p < 0.02 except patient effects p = 0.12). Among comparisons between simulation and other forms of instruction, the pooled effect sizes were small (≤0.33) for knowledge, time, and process skills (all p > 0.1). Qualitative comparisons of different simulation curricula are limited, although feedback, mastery learning, and higher fidelity were associated with improved learning outcomes. Conclusions Technology-enhanced simulation for EM learners is associated with moderate or large favorable effects in comparison with no intervention and generally small and nonsignificant benefits in comparison with other instruction. Future research should investigate the features that lead to effective simulation-based instructional design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Technology-enhanced simulation in emergency medicine: A systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this