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clinical teaching methods, critical incident technique, health professions education, nursing education, reflection



  1. Steven, Alison PhD, RN
  2. Wilson, Gemma PhD
  3. Turunen, Hannele PhD, RN
  4. Vizcaya-Moreno, M. Flores PhD, RN
  5. Azimirad, Mina MNSc, RN
  6. Kakurel, Jayden PhD
  7. Porras, Jari PhD
  8. Tella, Susanna PhD, RN
  9. Perez-Canaveras, Rosa PhD, RN
  10. Sasso, Loredana MEdSc, RN
  11. Aleo, Giuseppe PhD
  12. Myhre, Kristin PhD, RN
  13. Ringstad, Oystein PhD
  14. Sara-Aho, Arja RN
  15. Scott, Margaret RN
  16. Pearson, Pauline PhD, RN


Background: The terms critical incident technique and reflection are widely used but often not fully explained, resulting in ambiguity.


Purpose: The aims of this review were to map and describe existing approaches to recording or using critical incidents and reflection in nursing and health professions literature over the last decade; identify challenges, facilitating factors, strengths, and weaknesses; and discuss relevance for nursing education.


Methods: A systematic narrative review was undertaken. MEDLINE and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched using MeSH terms, returning 223 articles (2006-2017). After exclusions, 41 were reviewed.


Results: Articles were categorized into 3 areas: descriptions of the development of an original tool or model, critical incidents or reflection on events used as a learning tool, and personal reflections on critical incidents.


Conclusions: Benefits have been identified in all areas. More attention is needed to the pedagogy of reflection and the role of educators in reflection.