Effects of problem-based learning on nurse competence: A systematic review

Penelope Cartwright, Judith Bruce, Patricia McInerney


Objective: The aim of this review was to examine studies for evidence of the effects of problem-based learning on the competence of nurses in clinical practice.

Methods: A 5-step systematic review was undertaken as follows: defining the review question, setting the review objectives, searching databases to identify relevant studies between 1999-2009, selecting studies according to set criteria, and extracting and analysing the data. A primary review of 2,815 abstracts led to the selection of 11 studies, identified from a search of eight databases. By consensus review these were narrowed down to five studies: one quantitative and four qualitative. Using the Joanna Briggs SUMARI (System for the Unified Management, Assessment and Review of Information) programme, data were analyzed by meta-synthesis of the qualitative studies and a narrative summary of the quantitative study.

Results: Five studies (two from the USA; two from South Africa; one from Canada) met the inclusion criteria. From the evidence it was found that problem-based learning (PBL) had positive effects on nurse competence. The most commonly identified competencies include problem-solving, critical thinking, self-directedness and independent practice. PBL is instrumental in equipping nurses with leadership skills and the ability to provide high level, quality patient care.

Conclusions: Problem-based learning has positive effects on the development of nurse competence. Supervisors in clinical practice are generally positive about graduates’ competence and are inclined to place them in a leadership position in clinical areas.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v7n4p67

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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