Quality and impact of pharmacology digital simulation education on pre-registration healthcare students: A systematic literature review

Sharad Rayamajhi*, Alison Machin, Cathal Breen, Gdiom Gebreheat, Ruth Paterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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This review aimed to assess the quality and nature of the literature related to digital simulation-based pharmacology education. Specifically, we sought to understand the influence of simulations on the knowledge, satisfaction, and confidence of pre-registration nurses and other healthcare students participating in such educational programs.


Systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement. This study was registered in the Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO, reg no: CRD42023437570).

Data sources

PubMed, MEDLINE, APA PsycInfo, ProQuest, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, and CINHAL databases were searched.

Review methods

The review focused on the quantitative findings from the studies published from 2016 to 2023. Only the studies that assessed the impact of digital simulation-based pharmacology education on pre-registration healthcare students' knowledge, satisfaction, and confidence were selected for review. Data were synthesized using a narrative approach. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used to assess the quality of the included articles. This was followed by a narrative synthesis to consolidate the themes.


Out of 1587 articles,16 met the inclusion criteria. A wide variety of digital technologies have been utilised, such as virtual simulation, computer simulation (2D/3D), mixed reality, and augmented reality, with the majority using virtual simulation. All studies implemented single-user simulations. The themes emerging from the narrative synthesis suggest that a digital simulation-based pharmacology course is an effective tool for enhancing students' knowledge, confidence, and satisfaction in learning pharmacological concepts. Furthermore, simulation-based teaching with a blended approach was found to be beneficial. However, the integration of the polypharmacy concept and the intra and interprofessional approach to teaching and learning was not evident in these studies.


This systematic literature review provides evidence of the potential of digital simulation-based education in pharmacology teaching among healthcare pre-registration students. In future studies, the integration of polypharmacy content with an intra and interprofessional teaching-learning approach is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106295
Number of pages13
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date25 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2024

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