The effectiveness of nurse education and training for clinical alarm response and management: a systematic review

Liqing Yue, Virginia Plummer, Wendy Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To identify the effectiveness of education interventions provided for nurses for clinical alarm response and management. Background: Some education has been undertaken to improve clinical alarm response, but the evidence for evaluating effectiveness for nurse education interventions is limited. Design: Systematic review. Methods: A systematic review of experimental studies published in English from 2005–2015 was conducted in four computerised databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Scopus). After identification, screening and appraisal using Joanna Briggs Institute instruments, quality research papers were selected, data extraction and analysis followed. Results: Five studies met the inclusion criteria for alarm response and no articles were concerned with clinical alarm education for management. All had different types and methods of interventions and statistical pooling was not possible. Response accuracy, response time and perceptions were consistent when different interventions were adopted. A positive effect was identified when learning about general alarms, single alarms, sequential alarms and medium-level alarms for learning as the primary task. Nurses who were musically trained had a faster and more accurate alarm response. Simulation interventions had a positive effect, but the effect of education provided in the care unit was greater. Overall, clinical alarm awareness was improved through education activities. Conclusions: Nurses are the main users of healthcare alarms and work in complex environments with high numbers of alarms, including nuisance alarms and other factors. Alarm-related adverse events are common. The findings of a small number of experimental studies with diverse evidence included consideration of various factors when formulating education strategies. The factors which influence effectiveness of nurse education are nurse demographics, nurse participants with musical training, workload and characteristics of alarms. Education interventions based in clinical practice settings increase education effectiveness, although simulation can be effective. No study shows any type of intervention results in sustained improvement. Relevance to clinical practice: There are workload implications in education and the matching of load, number and type of alarms with nurse demographics which should be evaluated. There also needs to be a connection between education and the clinical setting to contribute to clinical alarm awareness for undergraduate nurses and practicing nurses. Education solely supported by employers is insufficient. Patient safety and long-term effects must be further explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2511-2526
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • clinical alarm
  • education
  • equipment alarm
  • management
  • monitor
  • nurse
  • response
  • student nurse
  • systematic review
  • training

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