Findings from a human roles terminology survey: Consensus or chaos?

Jill Steiner Sanko, Tonya Schneidereith, Amy Cowperthwait, Rachel Onello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Terminology describing humans' roles in simulation varies widely. Inconsistent nomenclature is problematic because it inhibits use of a common language, impacting development of a cohesive body of knowledge. Methods A literature search was completed to identify terms used to describe roles played by humans in simulation-based education. Based on these findings, a survey was created to explore the terminology used by simulation educators and researchers to describe human roles in simulation and the perceived need for a consistent nomenclature. Results Results demonstrated wide variability in terminology, including terms such as standardised patient, simulated patient, simulated participants, confederate, embedded actor and scenario role player. Conclusion Creation of a cohesive body of knowledge for human roles in simulation requires use of common terminology, yet findings suggest a complex landscape of terminology. Building consensus on the terminology describing human roles in simulation can clarify understanding of best practice and allow for advancement in the research and state of the science in simulation-based education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-163
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Simulation and Technology Enhanced Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • confederate
  • simulation
  • standardized patient
  • terminology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Education
  • Health Informatics


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