Efficacy of Serious Games in Healthcare Professions Education: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Simul Healthc. 2021 Jun 1;16(3):199-212. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000512.

Abstract

Serious games (SGs) are interactive and entertaining software designed primarily with an educational purpose. This systematic review synthesizes evidence from experimental studies regarding the efficacy of SGs for supporting engagement and improving learning outcomes in healthcare professions education. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between January 2005 and April 2019 were included. Reference selection and data extraction were performed in duplicate, independently. Thirty-seven RCTs were found and 29 were included in random-effect meta-analyses. Compared with other educational interventions, SGs did not lead to more time spent with the intervention {mean difference 23.21 minutes [95% confidence interval (CI) = -1.25 to 47.66]}, higher knowledge acquisition [standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.16 (95% CI = -0.20 to 0.52)], cognitive [SMD 0.08 (95% CI = -0.73 to 0.89)], and procedural skills development [SMD 0.05 (95% CI = -0.78 to 0.87)], attitude change [SMD = -0.09 (95% CI = -0.38 to 0.20)], nor behavior change [SMD = 0.2 (95% CI = -0.11 to 0.51)]. Only a small SMD of 0.27 (95% CI = 0.01 to 0.53) was found in favor of SGs for improving confidence in skills.