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Systematic Reviews & Other Review Types

What is an Integrative Review?

Broadest type of research review methods.

"A review method that summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem (Broome 1993).

An integrative review is best designed to:

  • review experimental and non-experimental research simultaneously
  • define concepts
  •  review theories
  • review evidence/point out gaps in the literature
  • analyze methodological issues

Source: Whittemore et al (2005)

Other names for an Integrative Review

IR, Integrative Literature Review, Systematic Integrative Review

How an Integrative Review differs from a Systematic Review

Timeframe: 12+ months

Question: Formulation of a problem, may be related to practice and/or policy.

Sources and searches: Comprehensive but with a specific focus, integrated methodologies-experimental and non-experimental research.  Purposive Sampling may be employed. Database searching is recommended along with grey literature searching.  "Other recommended approaches to searching the literature include ancestry searching, journal hand searching, networking, and searching research registries."  Search is transparent and reproducible.

Selection: Selected as related to problem identified or question, Inclusion of empirical and theoretical reports and diverse study methodologies. 

Appraisal: "How quality is evaluated in an integrative review will vary depending on the sampling frame."  Limited/varying methods of critical appraisal and can be complex.  "In a review that encompasses theoretical and empirical sources, two quality criteria instruments could be developed for each type of source and scores could be used as criteria for inclusion/exclusion or as a variable in the data analysis stage."

Synthesis: Qualitative/narrative synthesis for qualitative and quantitative studies. Data extracted for study characteristics and concept.  Synthesis may be in the form of a table or model to portray results. "Extracted data are compared item by item so that similar data are categorized and grouped together."  

The method consists of:

  • data reduction
  • data display
  • data comparison
  • conclusion drawing,
  • verification 

Source: Whittemore et al (2005)

Limitations of an Integrative Review

  • The combination and complexity of incorporating diverse methodologies can contribute to lack of rigor, inaccuracy, and bias.
  • Methods of analysis, synthesis, and conclusion drawing remain poorly formulated.

Source: Whittemore et al (2005)

Temple Attribution

Adapted with permission from Temple University Libraries.

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Pharmacy
Harlem Campus 230 West 125th Street New York, NY 10027 (212) 851-1199