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Med Educ. 2009 Mar;43(3):202-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03268.x.

Feedback by simulated patients in undergraduate medical education: a systematic review of the literature.

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Department of Educational Development and Research, Faculty of Health, Life Sciences and Medicine, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Although the importance of feedback by simulated patients (SPs) is generally recognised, knowledge is scarce about the most effective ways in which SPs can provide feedback. In addition, little is known about how SPs are trained to provide feedback. This study aimed to provide a systematic overview of the ways in which SPs provide feedback to undergraduate medical students, the domains in which SPs provide feedback and the ways in which SPs are trained to provide feedback.


We performed a systematic search of the literature using PubMed, PsychINFO and ERIC and searched for additional papers cited in reference lists. Papers were selected on the basis of pre-established inclusion and exclusion criteria and were classified, using a pre-established form, according to three aspects of SP feedback: training in giving feedback; the process of delivering feedback, and the domain(s) in which feedback is given.


A total of 49 studies were included and described in detail on the basis of the three aspects of SP feedback described above. The ways in which SPs were trained to give feedback were largely heterogeneous, as were the processes by which feedback was provided by SPs. Only a few studies described feedback processes that were in accordance with general recommendations for the delivery of effective feedback. Although feedback from the patient's perspective is generally recommended, most SPs provided feedback on clinical skills and communication skills.


There appear to be no clear standards with regard to effective feedback training for SPs. Furthermore, the processes by which feedback is provided by SPs and the selection of domain(s) in which SPs give feedback often seem to lack a solid scientific basis. Suggestions for further research are provided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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