Trends in smartphone-supported medical education: A review of journal publications from 2007 to 2016

Ching Yi Chang, Gwo Jen Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Issues relevant to smartphone-supported mobile learning have been extensively discussed and investigated over the past years. Unlike general mobile devices, the advantages of smartphones, such as recording learning and portability, can cross formal and informal education. Smartphones can promote communication between health professionals; however, there is still a lack of systematic analysis of the application and development trends of smartphone use in medical education. The present study systematically reviewed research articles published in international academic journals from 2007 to 2016, analyzed the application domains, subjects, and adopted learning strategies, and investigated the research issues of smartphone-supported medical education. The findings revealed that the application of smartphones in medical education and training has not gained much popularity over the past years. In addition to the changes in the software technology in smartphones and the rising number of studies on mobile learning in medical education, research issues have become increasingly diverse in recent years. Smartphone-supported learning has mainly been implemented to develop basic concepts of biomedical information and in information technology environments; moreover, applying smartphones in medical education did not extensively adopt such learning strategies as inquirybased learning, contextual mobile learning, mindtools, game-based learning, or synchronous sharing. This indicates that most of the studies adopting smartphones focused on skills training and basic knowledge acquisition rather than on the development of learners' higher-order thinking, for example, problem solving or critical thinking. On the other hand, it was found that the number of experimental studies related to smartphones has increased recently. The majority of research adopted questionnaire surveys and reported learners' cognitive performances and concepts, while learning behaviors were seldom analyzed. Therefore, this study indicates the research trends and potential research issues of integrating smartphones into medical education, and provides suggestions and references for researchers, medical teachers, and decisionmakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-407
Number of pages19
JournalKnowledge Management and E-Learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Literature review
  • Medical education
  • Mobile learning
  • Smartphone
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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