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NURS503 - Spring 2019

Documenting Your Methodology

As a systematic review is a research methodology, you need to document what you did to find your data.

You need to keep track of the following. You may find it useful to create an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document.

  • Databases searched, including interface (e.g. CINAHL Plus, Ebsco; MEDLINE, OVID)
  • Date you ran your final searches 
  • Search strategy -- including the keywords and subject headings. Use this as a basis for your search narrative
  • Limits used such as English only, peer-reviewed, or date restrictions
  • Search history -- you can cut and paste the search from each database. Add this as an Appendix so the reader can see exactly how your conducted your search
  • Number of results (PRISMA diagram)
    • from all databases
    • after duplicates removed (keep track of how many duplicates)
    • how many excluded in title abstract screening
    • how many excluded in full text screening, and the reasons why each article is excluded​


We searched MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE® Daily, and Ovid MEDLINE® 1946 to Present), EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, PsycARTICLES, Joanna Briggs Institute EBP Database, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, SocINDEX, and Family & Society Studies Worldwide. We focused on two main concepts: breastfeeding and self-efficacy. We used synonyms and variations of relevant keywords, and subject headings for each concept. We pretested the search for comprehensiveness in MEDLINE to ensure that known relevant research was retrieved. We translated the MEDLINE search (see Supplementary Table 1) for each database, with the same keywords across databases, and subject headings responsive to the controlled vocabulary of each database. We located additional studies by conducting a reverse look-up examining all intervention articles citing the original BSE scale development articles (Dennis, 2003; Dennis & Faux, 1999).

Brockway, M., Benzies, K., & Hayden, K. A. (2017). Interventions to improve breastfeeding self-efficacy and resultant breastfeeding rates: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Human Lactation33(3), 486-499.

Search Strategy for Identification of Studies

A health sciences librarian (KAH) and investigator (SP) developed the search strategy based upon a previously published search (Heinrichs et al., 2013). The search was completed on November 22, 2014 using truncated keywords and subject headings. Keywords included peripheral intravenous catheterization, success/fail, adult, and relevant synonyms. Each search was internally deduplicated to remove multiple reports of the same study. To ensure a rigourous search methodology we pretested our search and received peer review feedback from a Health Sciences Librarian based upon the Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies Guidelines (McGowan et al., 2010). We searched MEDLINE (OVID), EMBASE (OVID), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (EBSCO), and the Cochrane Database of Interventions for relevant articles published in English. We also chose to search the TRIP, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (OVID), Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health, Proquest Dissertation and Theses Global, and Open Grey databases. To capture new and conventional interventions no date limits were incorporated. Each search was saved to re-run for updating. The MEDLINE search strategy was translated for each database. Two independent reviewers (SP and KB) screened the first 100 titles and abstracts with a 99% inter-rater agreement. Disagreement was settled by consensus. SP obtained the full text of all potentially relevant study reports for comparison to the inclusion criteria. If the full text was not available the study was excluded. It was not feasible to contact authors for full text reports nor hand search journals.

Parker, S. I., Benzies, K. M., Hayden, K. A., & Lang, E. S. (2017). Effectiveness of interventions for adult peripheral intravenous catheterization: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. International Emergency Nursing 31, 15-21. 

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