In meta-analysis patterns and relationships are detected and conclusions are drawn. Meta-analysis is associated with deductive research approach.
Meta-synthesis, on the other hand, is based on non-statistical techniques. This technique integrates, evaluates and interprets findings of multiple qualitative research studies. Meta-synthesis literature review is conducted usually when following inductive research approach. Argumentative literature review, as the name implies, examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature.
It should be noted that a potential for bias is a major shortcoming associated with argumentative literature review. In these cases, systematic reviews can use qualitative synthesis methods such as vote counting, content analysis, classification schemes and tabulations, as an alternative approach to narratively synthesize the results of the independent studies included in the review.
This form of review is known as qualitative systematic review. A rigorous example of one such review in the eHealth domain is presented by Mickan, Atherton, Roberts, Heneghan, and Tilson on the use of handheld computers by healthcare professionals and their impact on access to information and clinical decision-making. Heterogeneity between the included studies in terms of reported outcomes and measures precluded the use of meta-analytic methods.
To this end, the authors resorted to using narrative analysis and synthesis to describe the effectiveness of handheld computers on accessing information for clinical knowledge, adherence to safety and clinical quality guidelines, and diagnostic decision-making.
In recent years, the number of systematic reviews in the field of health informatics has increased considerably. Systematic reviews with discordant findings can cause great confusion and make it difficult for decision-makers to interpret the review-level evidence Moher, Therefore, there is a growing need for appraisal and synthesis of prior systematic reviews to ensure that decision-making is constantly informed by the best available accumulated evidence.
Umbrella reviews generally adhere to the same principles and rigorous methodological guidelines used in systematic reviews. As explained above, systematic reviews seek to identify causation. Such logic is appropriate for fields like medicine and education where findings of randomized controlled trials can be aggregated to see whether a new treatment or intervention does improve outcomes.
The basic research question — what works? Realist reviews have no particular preference for either quantitative or qualitative evidence. As a theory-building approach, a realist review usually starts by articulating likely underlying mechanisms and then scrutinizes available evidence to find out whether and where these mechanisms are applicable Shepperd et al. Primary studies found in the extant literature are viewed as case studies which can test and modify the initial theories Rousseau et al.
The main objective pursued in the realist review conducted by Otte-Trojel, de Bont, Rundall, and van de Klundert was to examine how patient portals contribute to health service delivery and patient outcomes.
The specific goals were to investigate how outcomes are produced and, most importantly, how variations in outcomes can be explained.
The research team started with an exploratory review of background documents and research studies to identify ways in which patient portals may contribute to health service delivery and patient outcomes. These studies were identified through a formal and systematic search in four databases between and Two members of the research team selected the articles using a pre-established list of inclusion and exclusion criteria and following a two-step procedure.
The authors then extracted data from the selected articles and created several tables, one for each outcome category. They organized information to bring forward those mechanisms where patient portals contribute to outcomes and the variation in outcomes across different contexts.
Unlike other review types, critical reviews attempt to take a reflective account of the research that has been done in a particular area of interest, and assess its credibility by using appraisal instruments or critical interpretive methods. In this way, critical reviews attempt to constructively inform other scholars about the weaknesses of prior research and strengthen knowledge development by giving focus and direction to studies for further improvement Kirkevold, The authors conducted a comprehensive search on multiple databases to identify eligible reviews and subsequently used a validated instrument to conduct an in-depth quality appraisal.
Results indicate that the majority of systematic reviews in this particular area suffer from important methodological flaws and biases that impair their internal validity and limit their usefulness for clinical and decision-making purposes.
To this end, they provide a number of recommendations to strengthen knowledge development towards improving the design and execution of future reviews on home telemonitoring.
Summary Table 9. It also includes key references to methodological guidelines and useful sources that can be used by eHealth scholars and researchers for planning and developing reviews. Table 9. As shown in Table 9.
For example, in the case of narrative reviews, there is greater flexibility in searching and synthesizing articles Green et al. Researchers are often relatively free to use a diversity of approaches to search, identify, and select relevant scientific articles, describe their operational characteristics, present how the individual studies fit together, and formulate conclusions.
Some reviews are exploratory in nature e. Hence, in order to select the most appropriate type of review, it is critical to know before embarking on a review project, why the research synthesis is conducted and what type of methods are best aligned with the pursued goals.
Concluding Remarks In light of the increased use of evidence-based practice and research generating stronger evidence Grady et al. As mentioned earlier, when rigorously conducted review articles represent powerful information sources for eHealth scholars and practitioners looking for state-of-the-art evidence.
The typology of literature reviews we used herein will allow eHealth researchers, graduate students and practitioners to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences between review types. As explained above, each type of review has its own strengths and limitations.
Having said that, we realize that the methodological rigour of any review — be it qualitative, quantitative or mixed — is a critical aspect that should be considered seriously by prospective authors. In the present context, the notion of rigour refers to the reliability and validity of the review process described in section 9.
For one thing, reliability is related to the reproducibility of the review process and steps, which is facilitated by a comprehensive documentation of the literature search process, extraction, coding and analysis performed in the review. Whether the search is comprehensive or not, whether it involves a methodical approach for data extraction and synthesis or not, it is important that the review documents in an explicit and transparent manner the steps and approach that were used in the process of its development.
Next, validity characterizes the degree to which the review process was conducted appropriately. It goes beyond documentation and reflects decisions related to the selection of the sources, the search terms used, the period of time covered, the articles selected in the search, and the application of backward and forward searches vom Brocke et al.
In short, the rigour of any review article is reflected by the explicitness of its methods i. To conclude, our main objective in this chapter was to demystify the various types of literature reviews that are central to the continuous development of the eHealth field.
It is our hope that our descriptive account will serve as a valuable source for those conducting, evaluating or using reviews in this important and growing domain.
References Ammenwerth E. An inventory of evaluation studies of information technology in health care. Trends in evaluation research, International Journal of Medical Informatics. Asking the right questions: scoping studies in the commissioning of research on the organisation and delivery of health services.
Health Research Policy and Systems. Personal health records: a scoping review. Journal of American Medical Informatics Association. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. A systematic, tool-supported method for conducting literature reviews in information systems.
Baumeister R. Writing narrative literature reviews. Review of General Psychology. Becker L. In: Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. Higgins J. Overviews of reviews; pp. Borenstein M. Introduction to meta-analysis. Cook D. Systematic reviews: Synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions. Annals of Internal Medicine. In: The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis.
Cooper H. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; Literature reviews are a basis for research in nearly every academic field. In such a case, the review usually precedes the methodology and results sections of the work. Producing a literature review may also be part of graduate and post-graduate student work, including in the preparation of a thesis , dissertation , or a journal article.
Literature reviews are also common in a research proposal or prospectus the document that is approved before a student formally begins a dissertation or thesis.
References Ammenwerth E. Implementation Science.
Argumentative literature review, as the name implies, examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. Results indicate that the majority of systematic reviews in this particular area suffer from important methodological flaws and biases that impair their internal validity and limit their usefulness for clinical and decision-making purposes.
Personal health records: a scoping review. Further, high-quality reviews become frequently cited pieces of work which researchers seek out as a first clear outline of the literature when undertaking empirical studies Cooper, ; Rowe, Implementation Science. The review by Gurol-Urganci, de Jongh, Vodopivec-Jamsek, Atun, and Car on the effects of mobile phone messaging reminders for attendance at healthcare appointments is an illustrative example of a high-quality systematic review with meta-analysis. These studies were identified through a formal and systematic search in four databases between and
For example, You may write about those studies that disagree with your hypothesis, and then discuss those that agree with it. Searching the extant literature: The next step consists of searching the literature and making decisions about the suitability of material to be considered in the review Cooper, As in any academic discipline, rigorous knowledge syntheses are becoming indispensable in keeping up with an exponentially growing eHealth literature, assisting practitioners, academics, and graduate students in finding, evaluating, and synthesizing the contents of many empirical and conceptual papers. Seven databases were searched from to March
Now, for the second main section of your research report you need to write a summary of the main studies and research related to your topic. Summary Table 9. There exist three main coverage strategies. Recently, there have been several efforts to introduce more rigour in narrative reviews that will elucidate common pitfalls and bring changes into their publication standards. Don't just ignore it.
Researchers are often relatively free to use a diversity of approaches to search, identify, and select relevant scientific articles, describe their operational characteristics, present how the individual studies fit together, and formulate conclusions. In these cases, systematic reviews can use qualitative synthesis methods such as vote counting, content analysis, classification schemes and tabulations, as an alternative approach to narratively synthesize the results of the independent studies included in the review. As explained above, systematic reviews seek to identify causation. Your choice of a specific type of literature review should be based upon your research area, research problem and research methods. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy.
Evaluating other studies: In a review of the literature, you do not merely summarize the research findings that others have reported. There is no preconceived plan to systematically review all of the literature although this can be done. Cooper H. When placing this tag, consider associating this request with a WikiProject. At the earlier parts of the literature review chapter, you need to specify the type of your literature review and provide reasons for your choice.
When placing this tag, consider associating this request with a WikiProject. In the present context, the notion of rigour refers to the reliability and validity of the review process described in section 9.
Summary Table 9.