Introduction: Serious games (SGs) are interactive and entertaining digital software with an educational purpose. They engage the learner by proposing challenges and through various design elements (DEs; eg, points, difficulty adaptation, story). Recent reviews suggest the effectiveness of SGs in healthcare professionals’ and students’ education is mixed. This could be explained by the variability in their DEs, which has been shown to be highly variable across studies. The aim of this systematic review is to identify, appraise and synthesise the best available evidence regarding the effectiveness of SGs and the impact of DEs on engagement and educational outcomes of healthcare professionals and students.
Methods and analysis: A systematic search of the literature will be conducted using a combination of medical subject headings terms and keywords in Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health, Embase, Education Resources Information Center, PsycInFO, PubMed and Web of Science. Studies assessing SGs on engagement and educational outcomes will be included. Two independent reviewers will conduct the screening as well as the data extraction process. The risk of bias of included studies will also be assessed by two reviewers using the Effective Practice and Organisation of Care criteria. Data regarding DEs in SGs will first be synthesised qualitatively. A meta-analysis will then be performed, if the data allow it. Finally, the quality of the evidence regarding the effectiveness of SGs on each outcome will be assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.
Ethics and dissemination: As this systematic review only uses already collected data, no Institutional Review Board approval is required. Its results will be submitted in a peer-reviewed journal by the end of 2018.
Contribution to an article by Marc-André Maheu-Cadotte et al. published in full open access in BMJ Open. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019871.