An evidence-based approach to scoping reviews

Hanan Khalil, Micah Peters, Christina Godfrey, Patricia McInerney, Cassia Baldini Soares, Deborah Parker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    323 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Scoping reviews are used to assess the extent of a body of literature on a particular topic, and often to ensure that further research in that area is a beneficial addition to world knowledge. The aim of this paper reports upon the development of a methodology for scoping reviews based upon the Arksey and O'Malley framework, the Levac, Colquhoun, and O'Brien, and the Joanna Briggs Institute methods of evidence synthesis.

    Methods: A working group consisting of members of the Joanna Briggs collaborating organizations met to discuss the proposed framework for the methodology and develop a draft for the scoping review methodology based on the Arksey and O'Malley framework and the work of Levac et al. This was followed by a workshop attended by other members of the organizations consisting of 30 international researchers to discuss the proposed methodology. Further refinement of the methodology was undertaken as a result of the feedback received from the workshop.

    Results: The development of the methodology focused on five stages of the protocol and review development. These were identifying the research question by clarifying and linking the purpose and research question, identifying the relevant studies using a three-step literature search in order to balance feasibility with breadth and comprehensiveness, careful selection of the studies to using a team approach, charting the data and collating the results to identify the implications of the study findings for policy, practice, or research.

    Linking Evidence to Action: The current methodology recommends including both quantitative and qualitative research, as well as evidence from economic and expert opinion sources to answer questions of effectiveness, appropriateness, meaningfulness and feasibility of health practices and delivery methods. The proposed framework has the potential to provide options when faced with complex concepts or broad research questions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118 - 123
    Number of pages6
    JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Application of theory
    • Theory
    • International health∕Global health
    • Metaanalysis∕Data pooling
    • Outcome evaluation
    • Research Methods
    • reviews
    • scoping

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