Effects of problem-based learning in Chinese radiology education: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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In recent years, the problem-based learning (PBL) teaching method has been extensively applied as an experimental educational method in Chinese radiology education. However, the results of individual studies were inconsistent and inconclusive. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the effects of PBL on radiology education in China.


Databases of Chinese and English languages were searched from inception up to November 2017. The standard mean difference (SMD) with its 95% confidence interval (95% CI) was used to determine the over effects of PBL compared with the traditional teaching method.


Seventeen studies involving 1487 participants were included in this meta-analysis. Of them, 16 studies provided sufficient data for the pooled analysis and showed that PBL teaching method had a positive effect on achieving higher theoretical scores compared with the traditional teaching method (SMD = 1.20, 95% CI [0.68, 1.71]). Thirteen studies provided sufficient data on skill scores, and a significant difference in favor of PBL was also observed (SMD = 2.10, 95% CI [1.38, 2.83]). Questionnaire surveys were applied in most of the included studies and indicated positive effects of PBL on students’ learning interest, scope of knowledge, team spirit, and oral expression.


The result shows that PBL appears to be more effective on radiology education than traditional teaching method in China. However, the heterogeneity of the included studies cannot be neglected. Further well-designed studies about this topic are needed to confirm the above findings.

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