Reflection and reflective practice in health professions education: a systematic review

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2009 Oct;14(4):595-621. doi: 10.1007/s10459-007-9090-2. Epub 2007 Nov 23.


The importance of reflection and reflective practice are frequently noted in the literature; indeed, reflective capacity is regarded by many as an essential characteristic for professional competence. Educators assert that the emergence of reflective practice is part of a change that acknowledges the need for students to act and to think professionally as an integral part of learning throughout their courses of study, integrating theory and practice from the outset. Activities to promote reflection are now being incorporated into undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education, and across a variety of health professions. The evidence to support and inform these curricular interventions and innovations remains largely theoretical. Further, the literature is dispersed across several fields, and it is unclear which approaches may have efficacy or impact. We, therefore, designed a literature review to evaluate the existing evidence about reflection and reflective practice and their utility in health professional education. Our aim was to understand the key variables influencing this educational process, identify gaps in the evidence, and to explore any implications for educational practice and research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Character
  • Educational Status
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Health Occupations / education*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Virtues