Augmented reality in medical education: a systematic review


  • Kevin S. Tang The Warren Alpert Medical School Of Brown University
  • Derrick L. Cheng The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Eric Mi Brown University
  • Paul B. Greenberg Providence VA Medical Center



Introduction: The field of augmented reality (AR) is rapidly growing with many new potential applications in medical education. This systematic review investigated the current state of augmented reality applications (ARAs) and developed an analytical model to guide future research in assessing ARAs as teaching tools in medical education.

Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar. This review followed PRISMA guidelines and included publications from January 1, 2000 to June 18, 2018. Inclusion criteria were experimental studies evaluating ARAs implemented in healthcare education published in English. Our review evaluated study quality and determined whether studies assessed ARA validity using criteria established by the GRADE Working Group and Gallagher et al., respectively. These findings were used to formulate an analytical model to assess the readiness of ARAs for implementation in medical education.

Results: We identified 100,807 articles in the initial literature search; 36 met inclusion criteria for final review and were categorized into three categories: Surgery (23), Anatomy (9), and Other (4). The overall quality of the studies was poor and no ARA was tested for all five stages of validity. Our analytical model evaluates the importance of research quality, application content, outcomes, and feasibility of an ARA to gauge its readiness for implementation.

Conclusion: While AR technology is growing at a rapid rate, the current quality and breadth of AR research in medical training is insufficient to recommend the adoption into educational curricula. We hope our analytical model will help standardize AR assessment methods and define the role of AR technology in medical education.


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How to Cite

Tang KS, Cheng DL, Mi E, Greenberg PB. Augmented reality in medical education: a systematic review. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2020 Mar. 16 [cited 2024 May 29];11(1):e81-e96. Available from:



Reviews, Theoretical Papers, and Meta-Analyses