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Systematic and Scoping Reviews

Formulating your research question

Formulating your question is the key to a successful systematic review. Research questions need to be clear, focused, not too broad or too narrow.

Frameworks like PICO, SPIDER, ECLIPSE, and SPICE can help formulate your question and can also be used in the literature search to help determine your search terms.


Use this framework for Nursing and Health Sciences


P Population, Problem or Patient

I Intervention

C Comparison

O Outcome

T Time

S Study

Does hand washing among healthcare workers reduce hospital-acquired infections?

P: Patient, Problem or Population hospital-acquired infection
I: Intervention hand washing
C: Comparison hand sanitizer
O: Outcome less infection


Further Reading:

Methley, A. M., Campbell, S., Chew-Graham, C., McNally, R., & Cheraghi-Sohi, S. (2014). PICO, PICOS and SPIDER: A comparison study of specificity and sensitivity in three search tools for qualitative systematic reviews. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), 579. s12913-014-0579-0

Use this framework for the Social Sciences


S Setting

P Perspective

I Intervention


E Evaluation


In hospital waiting rooms, do therapy dog visits help reduce anxiety?

S Setting hospital waiting rooms
P Perspective hospital outpatients
I Intervention therapy dog visits
C: Comparison no therapy dog visits
E Evaluation reduced anxiety


Further Reading:

Riesenberg, L. A., & Justice, E. M. (2014). Conducting a successful systematic review of the literature, part 1. Nursing (Jenkintown, Pa.), 44(4), 13–17.

Use this framework for Healthcare Management and Improvement


E Expectations

C Client Group

L Location

I Impact

P Professional Involved

SE SErvice


How to offer free wireless to hospital patients?

E Expectations offer wireless in hospital
C Client Group hospital patients
L Location hospitals
P Professional Involved patients, families
SE SErvice hospital administration, technical support

Further Reading:

Pollock, A., & Berge, E. (2018). How to do a systematic review. International Journal of Stroke, 13(2), 138–156.

Use this framework for Health and Qualitative Research


S Sample Size

P Phenomenon of Interest

S Study Design

E Evaluation

R Research Type


For young parents, what is their experience with antenatal education?

S Sample Size young parrents
P Phenomenon of Interest antenatal education
S Study Design survey
Evaluation experiences
R Research Type qualitative

Further Reading:

Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER Tool for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435–1443.