Use of simulation-based education to improve outcomes of central venous catheterization: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Acad Med. 2011 Sep;86(9):1137-47. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318226a204.


Purpose: Central venous catheterization (CVC) is increasingly taught by simulation. The authors reviewed the literature on the effects of simulation training in CVC on learner and clinical outcomes.

Method: The authors searched computerized databases (1950 to May 2010), reference lists, and considered studies with a control group (without simulation education intervention). Two independent assessors reviewed the retrieved citations. Independent data abstraction was performed on study design, study quality score, learner characteristics, sample size, components of interventional curriculum, outcomes assessed, and method of assessment. Learner outcomes included performance measures on simulators, knowledge, and confidence. Patient outcomes included number of needle passes, arterial puncture, pneumothorax, and catheter-related infections.

Results: Twenty studies were identified. Simulation-based education was associated with significant improvements in learner outcomes: performance on simulators (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.60 [95% CI 0.45 to 0.76]), knowledge (SMD 0.60 [95% CI 0.35 to 0.84]), and confidence (SMD 0.41 [95% CI 0.30 to 0.53] for studies with single-group pretest and posttest design; SMD 0.52 (95% CI 0.23 to 0.81) for studies with nonrandomized, two-group design). Furthermore, simulation-based education was associated with improved patient outcomes, including fewer needle passes (SMD -0.58 [95% CI -0.95 to -0.20]), and pneumothorax (relative risk 0.62 [95% CI 0.40 to 0.97]), for studies with nonrandomized, two-group design. However, simulation-based training was not associated with a significant reduction in risk of either arterial puncture or catheter-related infections.

Conclusions: Despite some limitations in the literature reviewed, evidence suggests that simulation-based education for CVC provides benefits in learner and select clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Manikins
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*