Simulation modelling in healthcare : an umbrella review of systematic literature reviews

Salleh, Syed and Thokala, Praveen and Brennan, Alan and Hughes, Ruby and Booth, Andrew (2017) Simulation modelling in healthcare : an umbrella review of systematic literature reviews. PharmacoEconomics, 35 (9). pp. 937-949. ISSN 1779-2027 (

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Background: Numerous studies examine simulation modelling in healthcare. These studies present a bewildering array of simulation techniques and applications, making it challenging to characterise the literature. Objective: The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the level of activity of simulation modelling in healthcare and the key themes. Methods: We performed an umbrella review of systematic literature reviews of simulation modelling in healthcare. Searches were conducted of academic databases (JSTOR, Scopus, PubMed, IEEE, SAGE, ACM, Wiley Online Library, ScienceDirect) and grey literature sources, enhanced by citation searches. The articles were included if they performed a systematic review of simulation modelling techniques in healthcare. After quality assessment of all included articles, data were extracted on numbers of studies included in each review, types of applications, techniques used for simulation modelling, data sources and simulation software. Results: The search strategy yielded a total of 117 potential articles. Following sifting, 37 heterogeneous reviews were included. Most reviews achieved moderate quality rating on a modified AMSTAR (A Measurement Tool used to Assess systematic Reviews) checklist. All the review articles described the types of applications used for simulation modelling; 15 reviews described techniques used for simulation modelling; three reviews described data sources used for simulation modelling; and six reviews described software used for simulation modelling. The remaining reviews either did not report or did not provide enough detail for the data to be extracted. Conclusion: Simulation modelling techniques have been used for a wide range of applications in healthcare, with a variety of software tools and data sources. The number of reviews published in recent years suggest an increased interest in simulation modelling in healthcare.