Background: The need to evaluate the effectiveness of SPs in improving clinical competence has attracted a heightened interest across the healthcare professions, with some prevailing gaps in their evidence. Using a scoping review approach, this study aims to provide an overview on the effectiveness of SPs in facilitating the development of clinical competence for healthcare students.
Methods: This scoping review applied the first five out of the six-stage methodological framework developed by Levac et al. (Implementation Science 5:69), as follows: 1) Identify the research question; 2) identify relevant studies; 3) study selection; 4) charting the data; and 5) collating, summarising and reporting the results. The search was performed on four databases, including Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and Scopus.
Results: A total of 33 articles were included in this study (out of 968 identified), comprising of 20 cross-sectional studies, eight randomised controlled trials and five longitudinal studies. The studies were examined and categorised for further discussion in the three domains of clinical competence; technical, non-technical and cognitive skills. Overall, 24 out of 33 studies showed effectiveness of SPs in facilitating students' clinical competence.
Conclusion: This scoping review serves to provide guidance for future healthcare education development, by illustrating the effectiveness of SPs in improving students' clinical competence as evidenced in the literature. In doing so, it highlights the potential of SPs in facilitating students' acquisition of the necessary skills for clinical practice.
Keywords: Clinical competence; Healthcare students; Simulated patients; Standardized patients.