End of life care simulation: a review of the literature

Nurse Educ Today. 2014 May;34(5):766-74. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2013.10.005. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Background: Simulation is an evolving pedagogical approach to teaching in many undergraduate nursing curricula, however, there is little published literature on end of life care simulation as an effective means of teaching nursing students about end of life care.

Literature review aims: To examine available literature on end of life care simulation.

Review methods: An extensive literature search on end of life care simulation in the undergraduate nursing curriculum was conducted in CINAHL, Mosby's Index, Cochrane Database, Scopus, Eric via Proquest, and Medline. 6 research articles and 10 descriptive articles published between 2009 and 2013 that met the selection criteria are included in the review.

Findings: Findings of these 16 articles are reported under 4 main themes: 1) Increased knowledge of end of life care through 'experiential learning'; 2) Impact of family presence on student learning; 3) the Debriefing imperative, and 4) Methodological issues raised from studies.

Conclusion: The findings of the studies reviewed support end of life care simulation as a strong and viable pedagogical approach to learning for its positive effects on knowledge acquisition, communication skills, self-confidence, student satisfaction and level of engagement in learning. However, the important factors including psychological safety of students and the costs involved require careful consideration. Research on the use of simulation in nursing is still in its infancy, further research using various research designs is required to adequately explore the issues surrounding end of life care simulation.

Keywords: Education; End of life care; Nursing students; Simulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration*