Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2018 Oct 1;102(2):257-283. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.05.064. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Simulation as More Than a Treatment-Planning Tool: A Systematic Review of the Literature on Radiation Oncology Simulation-Based Medical Education.

Author information

College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.
Department of Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning, University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas.
Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. Electronic address:



Simulation-based medical education (SBME) is gaining prominence as a tool to meet Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-mandated competency-based assessment educational goals. SBME is used in radiation oncology, although the type and extent are not clear. This study reports a systematic literature review designed to clarify the type and extent of radiation oncology SBME.


The systematic review focused on radiation oncology SBME literature. The methods followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The inclusion criteria were identified according to the PICOS (population, intervention, comparison, outcome, and setting) framework. The population included undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education learners. Studies were limited to English-language studies published on or after January 1, 1990, in peer-reviewed journals. PubMed, MedEdPORTAL, and in-press articles were searched. The PubMed search was conducted using predefined search terms. References and similar articles were examined. Medical Subject Headings terms in selected articles were reviewed to ensure relevant terms were included.


Fifty-four SBME publications met the inclusion criteria. Only 9 of 54 studies (17%) self-identified as SBME. SBME types included screen-based simulators (56%), simulated environments (13%), virtual reality and haptic systems (13%), simulated patients (11%), part-task trainers (6%), and computer-based systems with mannequins (2%). A variety of radiation oncology skill sets were addressed, including contouring (54%), treatment planning (20%), clinical decision making (17%), anatomy and/or radiology (13%), radiation biology and/or physics (13%), communication skills and/or patient education (13%), brachytherapy (13%), and immobilization (11%). A target learning population was defined in 47 studies, including residents (53%), attending physicians (36%), medical students (21%), medical physicists (11%), radiation therapists (9%), nurses (6%), administrative staff (4%), and dosimetrists (4%). Learner feedback was reported in 32 studies.


Overall, this systematic literature review provides context and guidance for future radiation oncology SBME development. Appropriately framing SBME reports in the radiation oncology literature will facilitate development, implementation, and evaluation of SBME interventions. SBME resources should be centralized to facilitate dissemination and share resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center