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Adv Med Educ Pract. 2017 Oct 3;8:691-700. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S143694. eCollection 2017.

Use of a problem-based learning teaching model for undergraduate medical and nursing education: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Medical Education, Ahvaz Jundishapur of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.
Department of Radiology, Allied Health Sciences School, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Faculty of Health, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.
Research Center of Thalassemia and Hemoglobinopathy, Health Research Institute, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.



The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the problem-based learning (PBL) method as an alternative to conventional educational methods in Iranian undergraduate medical courses.


We systematically searched international datasets banks, including PubMed, Scopus, and Embase, and internal resources of banks, including MagirIran, IranMedex, IranDoc, and Scientific Information Database (SID), using appropriate search terms, such as "PBL", "problem-based learning", "based on problems", "active learning", and" learner centered", to identify PBL studies, and these were combined with other key terms such as "medical", "undergraduate", "Iranian", "Islamic Republic of Iran", "I.R. of Iran", and "Iran". The search included the period from 1980 to 2016 with no language limits.


Overall, a total of 1,057 relevant studies were initially found, of which 21 studies were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis. Of the 21 studies, 12 (57.14%) had a high methodological quality. Considering the pooled effect size data, there was a significant difference in the scores (standardized mean difference [SMD]=0.80, 95% CI [0.52, 1.08], P<0.000) in favor of PBL, compared with the lecture-based method. Subgroup analysis revealed that using PBL alone is more favorable compared to using a mixed model with other learning methods such as lecture-based learning (LBL).


The results of this systematic review showed that using PBL may have a positive effect on the academic achievement of undergraduate medical courses. The results suggest that teachers and medical education decision makers give more attention on using this method for effective and proper training.


education; meta-analysis; problem-based learning; traditional learning

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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