Background: Nursing students are often uncertain about working in a mental health care setting due to limited opportunities for practical placement. Simulation training provides students with the opportunity to develop clinical skills in a safe environment. Simulation is a teaching method that allows students to experience the reality of their future professional roles. In the clinical setting, mental illnesses are often associated with stigma and stereotypes, and simulation assists nursing students in preparing for these situations. Students are provided with standardised patients (SPs) as a way to develop their skills in assessing complex cases in mental health nursing education. Prior to their clinical placement, students in mental health nursing may have the option to replicate clinical situations using SPs, which may aid in the development of their clinical skills.
Aim: This literature review primarily aims to explore and synthesise the studies in simulation education research conducted related to the effects of SPs on clinical competence, knowledge and attitudes of undergraduate pre-registration mental health nursing students.
Methodology: Five electronic databases were used to conduct a comprehensive search. These databases were MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, and Scopus. The PICO (population, intervention, comparator and outcome) model was used to identify search terms. Relevant studies were discovered and analysed, and a manual journal search was also conducted. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used to evaluate the quality of each study.
Results: A total of ten studies that met the inclusion criteria were included. In all studies, the effectiveness of SP simulations was examined on undergraduate nursing students. Five studies assessed the confidence and anxiety levels of nursing students, and two examined their competence and satisfaction. In addition to motivation, students’ preparation, knowledge, communication skills and critical thinking were examined once. The findings suggest that SP simulation could be an effective strategy to promote competencies in graduate nursing education.
Conclusion: In the results of all the studies included, SPs were shown to have a positive impact on mental health nursing education when they were used as simulation methods. Through the use of simulation with SPs, students were better prepared for clinical work by reducing anxiety and enhancing their confidence, competency, knowledge and communication skills. In spite of this, all of the studies included in the review had several weaknesses, such as a lack of supervision, small sample sizes, a lack of diversity in the sample and a lack of a control group.