A rapid review of serious games: From healthcare education to dental education

K. Sipiyaruk*, J. E. Gallagher, S. Hatzipanagos, P. A. Reynolds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Games involving technology have the potential to enhance hand-eye coordination and decision-making skills. As a result, game characteristics have been applied to education and training, where they are known as serious games. There is an increase in the volume of literature on serious games in healthcare education; however, evidence on their impact is still ambiguous. Aims: The aims of this study were (i) to identify high-quality evidence (systematic reviews or meta-analyses) regarding impacts of serious games on healthcare education; and (ii) to explore evidence regarding impacts of serious games in dental education. Methods: A rapid review of the literature was undertaken to synthesise available evidence and examine serious games in healthcare education (Stage 1) and dental education (Stage 2). Results: Nine systematic reviews were included in Stage 1, four of which were of high, three of moderate and two of low quality. For Stage 2, two randomised control trials with moderate quality were included. The findings demonstrated that serious games are potentially effective learning tools in terms of knowledge and skills improvement, although outcomes of serious games over traditional learning approaches were not consistent. In addition, serious games appeared to be more engaging and satisfying for students, which could be considered as the most important positive impact. Conclusion: Serious games provide an option for healthcare and dental education but remain underutilised and researched. At best, they offer a similar experience to other methods in relation to educational outcome; however, they can provide a supplementary strategy to engage students and improve learner satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Early online date24 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2018


  • Dental education
  • Educational games
  • Health education
  • Healthcare education
  • Rapid review
  • Serious games


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