Journal of Surgical Simulation 2017; 4: A: 5 - 5

Published: 19 January 2017


Oral presentation

Special Issue: Effectiveness of medical simulation in teaching medical students critical care medicine

Matt Beal, John Kinnear, Caroline Rachael Anderson, Thomas D Martin, Rachel Wamboldt and Lee Hooper
Corresponding author: Matt Beal, Emergency Medicine, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UY, UK . Email:


Simulation has been shown to be a highly effective teaching method in a number of health professional groups, but its effectiveness in medical school education is less well defined with studies showing positive, negative and equivocal effects. Cognitive load theory may go some way to explain why a learner’s baseline knowledge can impact the efficacy of simulation. Where a learning task is too complex, short term memory can become overloaded resulting in the inhibition of learning. We present the results of a systematic review examining the effectiveness of simulation in teaching medical students critical care medicine.

We searched AMED, EMBASE, Medline, ERIC, BEI and AEI as well as the bibliographies and citations of included papers to July 2013. We included randomised control trials which compared simulation to another intervention or to no teaching, for the purposes of teaching medical students critical care medicine. Reviewers conducted maximal data extraction on participants, methods, outcomes and results; as well as assessing study quality. Results were synthesised using a random effects meta-analysis.

We identified 22 eligible studies (n=1325). Fifteen studies were included in the meta-analysis and found simulation to be significantly more effective than other teaching methods (SMD 0.84, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.24; p<0.001; I-squared  89%). High fidelity simulation was more effective than low fidelity simulation, and simulation was found to improve skill acquisition (SMD 1.01, 95% CI 0.49 to 1.53) but was no better than other teaching methods in knowledge acquisition (SMD 0.41, 95% CI -0.09 to 0.91).


medical simulation; medical students; medical education; critical care medicine

Additional Information

This presentation was given at the 6th Annual Homerton Simulation Conference: Safety Engineering and Simulation in Healthcare, Homerton University Hospital, London, UK, on 1 December 2016.

Conflicts of interest: none declared.

The work referred to in this presentation has been accepted for publication as follows: Beal MD, Kinnear J, Anderson CR, Martin TD, Wamboldt R, Hooper L. The effectiveness of medical simulation in teaching medical students critical care medicine: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Simulation in Healthcare. In press.