The value of simulation-based learning in pre-licensure nurse education: A state-of-the-art review and meta-analysis

Robyn P. Cant, Simon J. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Simulation modalities are numerous in nursing education, with a need to reveal their range and impact. We reviewed current evidence for effectiveness of medium to high fidelity simulation as an education mode in pre-licensure/pre-registration nurse education. A state-of-the-art review and meta-analyses was conducted based on a systematic search of publications in English between 2010 and 2015. Of 72 included studies, 43 were quantitative primary studies (mainly quasi-experimental designs), 13 were qualitative studies and 16 were reviews of literature. Forty of 43 primary studies reported benefits to student learning, and student satisfaction was high. Simulation programs provided multi-modal ways of learning. A meta-analysis (8 studies, n = 652 participants) identified that simulation programs significantly improved clinical knowledge from baseline. The weighted mean increase was 5.0 points (CI: 3.25–6.82) on a knowledge measure. Other objectively rated measures (eg, trained observers with checklists) were few. Reported subjective measures such as confidence and satisfaction when used alone have a strong potential for results bias. Studies presented valid empirical evidence, but larger studies are required. Simulation programs in pre-licensure nursing curricula demonstrate innovation and excellence. The programs should be shared across the discipline to facilitate development of multimodal learning for both pre-licensure and postgraduate nurses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • e-simulation
  • Experiential learning
  • Literature review
  • Nursing, students
  • Simulation
  • Virtual clinical simulation

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