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Findings from a human roles terminology survey: consensus or chaos?
  1. Jill Steiner Sanko1,
  2. Tonya Schneidereith2,
  3. Amy Cowperthwait3,
  4. Rachel Onello4
  1. 1 University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, Nursing, Coral Gables, Florida, USA
  2. 2 University of Maryland College of Nursing, Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3 University of Delaware College of Health Sciences, Nursing, Newark, Delaware, USA
  4. 4 University of South Carolina, College of Nursing, Nursing, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jill Steiner Sanko, Department of Nursing, University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, Coral Gables FL 33124, USA; j.sanko{at}


Background Terminology describing humans’ roles in simulation varies widely. Inconsistent nomenclature is problematic because it inhibits use of a common language, impacting development of a cohesive body of knowledge.

Methods A literature search was completed to identify terms used to describe roles played by humans in simulation-based education. Based on these findings, a survey was created to explore the terminology used by simulation educators and researchers to describe human roles in simulation and the perceived need for a consistent nomenclature.

Results Results demonstrated wide variability in terminology, including terms such as standardised patient, simulated patient, simulated participants, confederate, embedded actor and scenario role player.

Conclusion Creation of a cohesive body of knowledge for human roles in simulation requires use of common terminology, yet findings suggest a complex landscape of terminology. Building consensus on the terminology describing human roles in simulation can clarify understanding of best practice and allow for advancement in the research and state of the science in simulation-based education.

  • simulation
  • terminology
  • standardized patient
  • confederate
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  • Contributors Each author made substantial contributions to the design, data collection, analysis and/or writing, revising the manuscript. Each author has given final approval of the version to be published and is in agreement as to the accuracy of the data presented.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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