The effectiveness of education in the recognition and management of deteriorating patients: A systematic review

Clifford J. Connell, Ruth Endacott, Jennifer A. Jackman, Noelleen R. Kiprillis, Louise M. Sparkes, Simon J. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Survival from in-hospital cardiac arrest is poor. Clinical features, including abnormal vital signs, often indicate patient deterioration prior to severe adverse events. Early warning systems and rapid response teams are commonly used to assist the health profession in the identification and management of the deteriorating patient. Education programs are widely used in the implementation of these systems. The effectiveness of the education is unknown. Aim: The aims of this study were to identify: (i) the evidence supporting educational effectiveness in the recognition and management of the deteriorating patient and (ii) outcome measures used to evaluate educational effectiveness. Methods: A mixed methods systematic review of the literature was conducted using studies published between 2002 and 2014. Included studies were assessed for quality and data were synthesized thematically, while original data are presented in tabular form. Results: Twenty-three studies were included in the review. Most educational programs were found to be effective reporting significant positive impacts upon learners, patient outcomes and organisational systems. Outcome measures related to: i learners, for example knowledge and performance, ii systems, including activation and responses of rapid response teams, and iii patients, including patient length of stay and adverse events. All but one of the programs used blended teaching with >. 87% including medium to high fidelity simulation. In situ simulation was employed in two of the interventions. The median program time was eight hours. The longest program lasted 44 h however one of the most educationally effective programs was based upon a 40 min simulation program. Conclusion: Educational interventions designed to improve the recognition and management of patient deterioration can improve learner outcomes when they incorporate medium to high-fidelity simulation. High-fidelity simulation has demonstrated effectiveness when delivered in brief sessions lasting only forty minutes. In situ simulation has demonstrated sustained positive impact upon the real world implementation of rapid response systems. Outcome measures should include knowledge and skill developments but there are important benefits in understanding patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Early warning scores
  • Education
  • Medical emergency team
  • Patient deterioration
  • Rapid response systems
  • Simulation
  • Track and trigger
  • Training

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