Simulation-Based Education in Physical Therapist Professional Education: A Scoping Review

Phys Ther. 2022 Dec 6;102(12):pzac133. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzac133.


Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (1) describe and summarize the use of simulation-based education (SBE) with student physical therapists in the international literature and (2) describe the application and integration of standards of best practice (SOBP) for SBE reported in published physical therapy education research.

Methods: Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and ERIC databases were searched. The search included any published study that involved the use of SBE with student physical therapists. Because this was a scoping review, only descriptive statistics were compiled; no methodological quality assessment was performed.

Results: This scoping review revealed a significant increase in literature describing SBE with student physical therapists in the past 10 years. Simulation was used to address learning objectives across a variety of content areas and clinical settings. Communication skills were the most common objectives for simulation. Limited use of SOBP, published in 2016, was reported, and use of author-generated outcome measures without validation was common.

Conclusions: Although there has been an increase in literature reporting the use of SBE with student physical therapists across many practice areas and settings, many articles reported limited use and integration of published SOBP and frequently utilized outcome measures that had not been validated.

Impact: The findings show that limited use of validated outcome measures and SOBP constrain the capacity for reproducing studies, comparing findings among studies, and completing systematic reviews that could inform and optimize best practices for the use of SBE in physical therapist professional education. Further research on SBE in physical therapy would benefit from investigations that integrated and reported the use of SOBP for standardized patients, simulation design, and delivery and assessment of learning outcomes over time at multiple Kirkpatrick learning levels.

Keywords: Education: Physical Therapist Students; Outcome Measures; Simulation-Based Education; Standards of Best Practice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Professional*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Physical Therapists*