Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in the use of simulation-based education for training healthcare providers in technical and non-technical skills. Simulation education and research programs have mostly focused on the impact on clinical knowledge and improvement of technical skills rather than on cost. To study and characterize existing evidence to inform multi-stakeholder investment decisions, we performed a systematic review of the literature on costs in simulation-based education in medicine in general and in neonatal resuscitation as a particular focus. We conducted a systematic literature search of the PubMed database using two targeted queries. The first searched for cost analyses of healthcare simulation-based education more broadly, and the second was more narrowly focused on cost analyses of neonatal resuscitation training. The more general query identified 47 qualified articles. The most common specialties for education interventions were surgery (51%); obstetrics, gynecology, or pediatrics (11%); medicine, nursing, or medical school (11%); and urology (9%), accounting for over 80% of articles. The neonatal resuscitation query identified five qualified articles. The two queries identified seven large-scale training implementation studies, one in the United States and six in low-income countries. There were two articles each from Tanzania and India and one article each from Zambia and Ghana. Methods, definitions, and reported estimates varied across articles, implying interpretation, comparison, and generalization of program effects are challenging. More work is needed to understand the costs, processes, and outcomes likely to make simulation-based education programs cost-effective and scalable. To optimize return on investments in training, assessing resource requirements, associated costs, and subsequent outcomes can inform stakeholders about the potential sustainability of SBE programs. Healthcare stakeholders and decision makers will benefit from more transparent, consistent, rigorous, and explicit assessments of simulation-based education program development and implementation costs in low- and high-income countries.
Keywords: Obstetrics/gynecology; cost analysis; cost-effectiveness; neonatal resuscitation; review; simulation; training.
© The Author(s) 2020.