A qualitative review of the design thinking framework in health professions education.


UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Design thinking is a problem-solving framework that has been used to enhance patient experiences, improve clinical outcomes, and refine medical curricula. This study reviewed the use of design thinking in health professions education.
METHODS : A search yielded 169 articles, which were excluded if they were: (1) not related to education; (2) lacking an application of design thinking; or (3) not associated with healthcare. The final review yielded 15 articles, which were analyzed using qualitative methods.
RESULTS : All articles were published in 2009 or later and were diverse in their context, participants, and approach. Six studies emphasized the early stages of design thinking, with inspiration and ideation stages fostered through a variety of activities, such as lectures, small group discussions, and workshops. Studies examined a range of outcomes, including self-efficacy, perceptions, and solutions to a specific problem.
CONCLUSIONS : Our findings raise important considerations for health professions education, including the extent to which we should: 1) teach design thinking to students as a skill-based tool to prepare students for problem solving in complex healthcare environments; and 2) use design thinking to create, implement, and refine health professions curricula and educational programs. Despite the apparent benefits of design thinking, many questions for health professions education remain.


Creativity,Curriculum development,Design thinking,Innovation,Problem solving,

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