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Simulation has seen growing use in health care as a ‘tool, device and/or environment (that) mimics an aspect of clinical care’1 in order to improve health care provider performance, health care processes and, ultimately, patient outcomes.1–5 The use of simulation in health care has been accompanied by an expanding body of simulation-based research (SBR) addressing educational and clinical issues.6–15 Broadly speaking, SBR can be broken down into two categories: (1) research addressing the efficacy of simulation as a training methodology (ie, simulation-based education as the subject of research); and (2) research using simulation as an investigative methodology (ie, simulation as the environment for research).16 ,17 Many features of SBR overlap with traditional clinical or educational research. However, the use of simulation in research introduces a unique set of features that must be considered when designing the methodology, and reported when publishing the study.16–19
As has been shown in other fields of medicine,20 the quality of reporting in health professions education research is inconsistent and sometimes poor.1 ,11 ,21–23 Systematic reviews in medical education have quantitatively documented missing elements in the abstracts and main texts of published reports, with particular deficits in the reporting of study design, definitions of independent and dependent variables, and study limitations.21–23 In research specific to simulation for health care professions education, a systematic review noted many studies failing to ‘clearly describe the context, instructional design or outcomes’.1 Another study found that only 3% of studies incorporating debriefing in simulation education reported all the essential characteristics of debriefing.11 Failure to adequately describe the key elements of a research study impairs the efforts of editors, reviewers and readers to critically appraise strengths and weaknesses24 ,25 or apply and replicate findings.26 As such, …
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