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Scoping Review

Vol. 20 No. 2 (2022): New Horizons: Innovation in Medicine

Applied Theatre and Drama in Undergraduate Medical Education: A Scoping Review

August 10, 2021


Background: Thematic arts have been integrated throughout various undergraduate medical education programs to improve students’ clinical skills, knowledge, and behaviours to be clinically competent physicians. Applied theatre and drama use theatrical performances and exercises respectively to guide education. Several medical schools across Canada and the United States have incorporated applied theatre and drama within their curriculums, but there is currently no compilation of these initiatives.  


Methods: Using Arksey and O’Malley’s methodological framework for scoping reviews, the two authors searched journal databases for articles pertaining to theatre/drama activities being used in undergraduate medical education in Canada and the United States; search terms revolved around applied theatre and undergraduate medical education. Twenty articles were read in full, 14 were included in this review. The articles were subjected to content analysis to understand how these studies connected with the CanMEDS framework to understand the impacts and merits of applied theatre and drama in undergraduate medical education.


Results: Content analyses generated three parent-categories of how theatre and drama can help medical students improve their communication skills, creative medical learning, and aid their professional development. These three categories touched upon all seven aspects of the CanMEDS framework, indicating the values of drama being included in medical education.


Conclusion: This scoping review illustrates the intersections of thematic arts in undergraduate medical education by highlighting how applied theatre or drama activities connect to the entire CanMEDS framework. This review provides insights to current theatre and drama initiatives to aid medical faculty with their undergraduate medical curricula developments.


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