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Open Access Research article

Educational games in geriatric medicine education: a systematic review

Ziad Alfarah1, Holger J Schünemann23 and Elie A Akl34*

Author Affiliations

1 Geriatrics section, Department of Medicine, Boston University, USA

2 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada

3 Department of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, USA

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-19

Published: 23 April 2010



To systematically review the medical literature to assess the effect of geriatric educational games on the satisfaction, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of health care professionals.


We conducted a systematic review following the Cochrane Collaboration methodology including an electronic search of 10 electronic databases. We included randomized controlled trials (RCT) and controlled clinical trials (CCT) and excluded single arm studies. Population of interests included members (practitioners or students) of the health care professions. Outcomes of interests were participants' satisfaction, knowledge, beliefs, attitude, and behaviors.


We included 8 studies evaluating 5 geriatric role playing games, all conducted in United States. All studies suffered from one or more methodological limitations but the overall quality of evidence was acceptable. None of the studies assessed the effects of the games on beliefs or behaviors. None of the 8 studies reported a statistically significant difference between the 2 groups in terms of change in attitude. One study assessed the impact on knowledge and found non-statistically significant difference between the 2 groups. Two studies found levels of satisfaction among participants to be high. We did not conduct a planned meta-analysis because the included studies either reported no statistical data or reported different summary statistics.


The available evidence does not support the use of role playing interventions in geriatric medical education with the aim of improving the attitudes towards the elderly.