A Systematic Review of Educational Mobile-Applications (Apps) for Surgery Residents: Simulation and Beyond

Karen J. Dickinson, Barbara L. Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: The number of mobile-applications (Apps) increases daily. The regulation of App content is minimal yet surgical residents use these in daily educational practice. Surgical educators must be aware of the quality, efficacy, and validity of Apps available to effectively educate residents. The aim of this review was to determine the quality, efficacy, and validity evidence for educational Apps used by surgical residents. Materials and Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, and ERIC for articles published before September 1, 2019. Controlled vocabulary and natural language describing Apps/surgical residents were used. Two reviewers evaluated abstracts for inclusion. Inclusion criteria: studies measuring the quality, efficacy, or validity of educational Apps for surgical residents. Data was extracted from full text of included articles: study design, participants, App investigated, App development, evidence for efficacy, or validity of App. Results: Initial search identified 278 articles. 64 articles were duplicates and 214 articles were screened. A further 156 were excluded with 58 full text articles assessed for eligibility. Forty-five were included in analysis. Simulation (9/45) and Feedback (15/45) Apps were the most commonly studied in surgical residents. These were the main Apps that provided validity evidence for their use in education. Conclusion: Surgical education is evolving as educational technology becomes more prevalent. To be effective as surgical educators we must understand and appropriately use available tools. Of the educational Apps studied (21 Apps in 8 categories), only 3 categories reported validity evidence. Future studies should take care to measure validity and efficacy of educational Apps for surgical education to ensure quality control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1256
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Education
  • Educational Technologies
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Mobile Application
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Residency
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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