Research Synthesis Methods

A scoping review of scoping reviews: advancing the approach and enhancing the consistency

Journal Article

  • Author(s): Mai T. Pham, Andrijana Rajić, Judy D. Greig, Jan M. Sargeant, Andrew Papadopoulos, Scott A. McEwen
  • Article first published online: 24 Jul 2014
  • DOI: 10.1002/jrsm.1123
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Background

The scoping review has become an increasingly popular approach for synthesizing research evidence. It is a relatively new approach for which a universal study definition or definitive procedure has not been established. The purpose of this scoping review was to provide an overview of scoping reviews in the literature.

Methods

A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O'Malley framework. A search was conducted in four bibliographic databases and the gray literature to identify scoping review studies. Review selection and characterization were performed by two independent reviewers using pretested forms.

Results

The search identified 344 scoping reviews published from 1999 to October 2012. The reviews varied in terms of purpose, methodology, and detail of reporting. Nearly three‐quarter of reviews (74.1%) addressed a health topic. Study completion times varied from 2 weeks to 20 months, and 51% utilized a published methodological framework. Quality assessment of included studies was infrequently performed (22.38%).

Conclusions

Scoping reviews are a relatively new but increasingly common approach for mapping broad topics. Because of variability in their conduct, there is a need for their methodological standardization to ensure the utility and strength of evidence. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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