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Reviewing the literature
  1. Joanna Smith1,
  2. Helen Noble2
  1. 1School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanna Smith
    , School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; j.e.smith1{at}leeds.ac.uk

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Implementing evidence into practice requires nurses to identify, critically appraise and synthesise research. This may require a comprehensive literature review: this article aims to outline the approaches and stages required and provides a working example of a published review.

Are there different approaches to undertaking a literature review?

Literature reviews aim to answer focused questions to: inform professionals and patients of the best available evidence when making healthcare decisions; influence policy; and identify future research priorities. Although over 14 types of reviews have been identified,1 literature reviews can be broadly divided into narrative (descriptive) reviews, scoping reviews, rapid evidence assessments (rapid reviews) and systematic reviews. In terms of rigour, if viewed as a continuum, narrative and systematic reviews would be at opposing ends of the continuum with scoping and rapid reviews at the midpoint. Narrative reviews usually provide a summary of a small selection of studies in order to support empirical research, are often difficult to replicate and can be biased because the review may not be …

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