Games to support teaching clinical reasoning in health professions education: a scoping review

Authors Gilbert Koelewijn, Marije Hennus, Helianthe Kort, Joost Frenkel, Thijs van Houwelingen
Published in Medical Education Online
Publication date 2024
Research groups Technology for Healthcare Innovations
Type Article


Introduction: Given the complexity of teaching clinical reasoning to (future) healthcare professionals, the utilization of serious games has become popular for supporting clinical reasoning education. This scoping review outlines games designed to support teaching clinical reasoning in health professions education, with a specific emphasis on their alignment with the 8-step clinical reasoning cycle and the reflective practice framework, fundamental for effective learning. Methods: A scoping review using systematic searches across seven databases (PubMed, CINAHL, ERIC, PsycINFO, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase) was conducted. Game characteristics, technical requirements, and incorporation of clinical reasoning cycle steps were analyzed. Additional game information was obtained from the authors. Results: Nineteen unique games emerged, primarily simulation and escape room genres. Most games incorporated the following clinical reasoning steps: patient consideration (step 1), cue collection (step 2), intervention (step 6), and outcome evaluation (step 7). Processing information (step 3) and understanding the patient’s problem (step 4) were less prevalent, while goal setting (step 5) and reflection (step 8) were least integrated. Conclusion: All serious games reviewed show potential for improving clinical reasoning skills, but thoughtful alignment with learning objectives and contextual factors is vital. While this study aids health professions educators in understanding how games may support teaching of clinical reasoning, further research is needed to optimize their effective use in education. Notably, most games lack explicit incorporation of all clinical reasoning cycle steps, especially reflection, limiting its role in reflective practice. Hence, we recommend prioritizing a systematic clinical reasoning model with explicit reflective steps when using serious games for teaching clinical reasoning.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Medical Education Online
Key words clinical reasoning, serious games, reflective practice, problem-solving, experimental learning, medical education, critical thinking
Digital Object Identifier 10.1080/10872981.2024.2316971

Technology for Healthcare Innovations