Background: The application of digital games for training medical professionals is on the rise. So-called 'serious' games form training tools that provide a challenging simulated environment, ideal for future surgical training. Ultimately, serious games are directed at reducing medical error and subsequent healthcare costs. The aim was to review current serious games for training medical professionals and to evaluate the validity testing of such games.
Methods: PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PsychInfo and CINAHL were searched using predefined inclusion criteria for available studies up to April 2012. The primary endpoint was validation according to current criteria.
Results: A total of 25 articles were identified, describing a total of 30 serious games. The games were divided into two categories: those developed for specific educational purposes (17) and commercial games also useful for developing skills relevant to medical personnel (13). Pooling of data was not performed owing to the heterogeneity of study designs and serious games. Six serious games were identified that had a process of validation. Of these six, three games were developed for team training in critical care and triage, and three were commercially available games applied to train laparoscopic psychomotor skills. None of the serious games had completed a full validation process for the purpose of use.
Conclusion: Blended and interactive learning by means of serious games may be applied to train both technical and non-technical skills relevant to the surgical field. Games developed or used for this purpose need validation before integration into surgical teaching curricula.
Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.