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Nursing@Simmons - Nursing 410 Research Methods: Types of Review Articles

This course guide is designed to support the 2SN students in NURS 410 and covers Library resources and tools, effective search strategies and examples of scholarly research formats.

What's on this page?

Here you will find descriptions of narrative, integrative, and systematic reviews.  You will also find additional information about finding and understanding systematic reviews.  

Once you understand what a systematic review is and where to search for them, see the Database Search Tips page in this guide for help with finding the articles you need.

Comparing Different Types of Reviews

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review involves the identification, selection, appraisal, and synthesis of the best available evidence for clinical decision making. A properly conducted systematic review uses reproducible, preplanned strategies to reduce bias and instill rigor and pools information from both published and unpublished sources. 

Systematic reviews are conducted to answer specific, often narrow, clinical questions. These questions are formulated according to the mnemonic PICO addressing: a specific population (P) (such as people traveling long distance), the intervention of interest (I) (e.g., preventive measures for deep vein thrombosis), an optional comparison (C) (such as the standard of care, which may be no intervention), and one or more specific outcomes (such as prevention of deep vein thrombosis). 

Learn more!  Encyclopedia of Nursing Research

What is Meta-Analysis?

Meta-analysis is a quantitative approach that permits the synthesis and integration of results from multiple individual studies focused on a specific research question. A meta-analysis is a rigorous alternative to the traditional narrative review of the literature. It involves the application of the research process to a collection of studies in a specific area. The individual studies are considered the sample. 

A systematic review may include meta-analysis if it is able to combine the results of comparable randomized controlled trials (see the "Systematic Review" entry in the Encyclopedia f Nursing Research for more information).

Learn more!  Encyclopedia of Nursing Research

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of research in healthcare and health policy that are published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. There are five types of Cochrane Review:

  1. Intervention reviews assess the benefits and harms of interventions used in healthcare and health policy.
  2. Diagnostic test accuracy reviews assess how well a diagnostic test performs in diagnosing and detecting a particular disease.
  3. Methodology reviews address issues relevant to how systematic reviews and clinical trials are conducted and reported.
  4. Qualitative reviews synthesize qualitative evidence to address questions on aspects other than effectiveness.
  5. Prognosis reviews address the probable course or future outcome(s) of people with a health problem. 

Cochrane Reviews are updated to reflect the findings of new evidence when it becomes available because the results of new studies can change the conclusions of a review. Cochrane Reviews are therefore valuable sources of information for those receiving and providing care, as well as for decision-makers and researchers.

Learn more!  About Cochrane Systematic Reviews

Click on the Cochrane Library with Systematic Reviews link above to enter the database.  You may need to enter your Simmons username and password if you're off campus.

There are two ways to find Cochrane Reviews:

  1. Under the Cochrane Reviews tab, choose Browse by Topic.  
  2. In the top right corner of the screen, type in your topic and click the magnifying glass icon.

Both options will allow you to narrow you results on the next page.

Check out Cochrane's self-paced tutorials for search demos and additional tips.

Finding Systematic Reviews in Other Databases

You can also search for systematic reviews in CINAHL, Medline, and other health sciences databases.

The phrase "systematic review" will generally appear in the title or abstract of an article.  As a result, you can find them by adding "systematic review" as one of your search terms.