Nursing: How to Write a Literature Review

  • Traditional or Narrative Literature Review

Getting started

1. start with your research question, 2. search the literature, 3. read & evaluate, 4. finalize results, 5. write & revise, brainfuse online tutoring and writing review.


The best way to approach your literature review is to break it down into steps.  Remember, research is an iterative process, not a linear one.  You will revisit steps and revise along the way.  Get started with the handout, information, and tips from various university Writing Centers below that provides an excellent overview.  Then move on to the specific steps recommended on this page.

  • UNC- Chapel Hill Writing Center Literature Review Handout, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center Learn how to write a review of literature, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • University of Toronto-- Writing Advice The Literature Review: A few tips on conducting it, from the University of Toronto.
  • Begin with a topic.
  • Understand the topic. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the terminology.  Note what words are being used and keep track of these for use as database search keywords. 
  • See what research has been done on this topic before you commit to the topic.  Review articles can be helpful to understand what research has been done .
  • Develop your research question.  (see handout below)
  • How comprehensive should it be? 
  • Is it for a course assignment or a dissertation? 
  • How many years should it cover?
  • Developing a good nursing research question Handout. Reviews PICO method and provides search tips.

Your next step is to construct a search strategy and then locate & retrieve articles.

  •  There are often 2-4 key concepts in a research question.
  • Search for primary sources (original research articles.)
  • These are based on the key concepts in your research question.
  • Remember to consider synonyms and related terms.
  • Which databases to search?
  • What limiters should be applied (peer-reviewed, publication date, geographic location, etc.)?

Review articles (secondary sources)

Use to identify literature on your topic, the way you would use a bibliography.  Then locate and retrieve the original studies discussed in the review article. Review articles are considered secondary sources.

  • Once you have some relevant articles, review reference lists to see if there are any useful articles.
  • Which articles were written later and have cited some of your useful articles?  Are these, in turn, articles that will be useful to you? 
  • Keep track of what terms you used and what databases you searched. 
  • Use database tools such as save search history in EBSCO to help.
  • Keep track of the citations for the articles you will be using in your literature review. 
  • Use RefWorks or another method of tracking this information. 
  • Database Search Strategy Worksheet Handout. How to construct a search.
  • TUTORIAL: How to do a search based on your research question This is a self-paced, interactive tutorial that reviews how to construct and perform a database search in CINAHL.

The next step is to read, review, and understand the articles.

  • Start by reviewing abstracts. 
  • Make sure you are selecting primary sources (original research articles).
  • Note any keywords authors report using when searching for prior studies.
  • You will need to evaluate and critique them and write a synthesis related to your research question.
  • Consider using a matrix to organize and compare and contrast the articles . 
  • Which authors are conducting research in this area?  Search by author.  
  • Are there certain authors’ whose work is cited in many of your articles?  Did they write an early, seminal article that is often cited?
  • Searching is a cyclical process where you will run searches, review results, modify searches, run again, review again, etc. 
  • Critique articles.  Keep or exclude based on whether they are relevant to your research question.
  • When you have done a thorough search using several databases plus Google Scholar, using appropriate keywords or subject terms, plus author’s names, and you begin to find the same articles over and over.
  • Remember to consider the scope of your project and the length of your paper.  A dissertation will have a more exhaustive literature review than an 8 page paper, for example.
  • What are common findings among each group or where do they disagree? 
  • Identify common themes. Identify controversial or problematic areas in the research. 
  • Use your matrix to organize this.
  • Once you have read and re-read your articles and organized your findings, you are ready to begin the process of writing the literature review.

2. Synthesize.  (see handout below)

  • Include a synthesis of the articles you have chosen for your literature review.
  • A literature review is NOT a list or a summary of what has been written on a particular topic. 
  • It analyzes the articles in terms of how they relate to your research question. 
  • While reading, look for similarities and differences (compare and contrast) among the articles.  You will create your synthesis from this.
  • Synthesis Examples Handout. Sample excerpts that illustrate synthesis.

Regis Online students have access to Brainfuse. Brainfuse is an online tutoring service available through a link in Moodle. Meet with a tutor in a live session or submit your paper for review.

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Good Place to Start: Citation Databases

Interdisciplinary Citation Databases:

A good place to start your research  is to search a research citation database to view the scope of literature available on your topic.

TIP #1: SEED ARTICLE Begin your research with a "seed article" - an article that strongly supports your research topic.  Then use a citation database to follow the studies published by finding articles which have cited that article, either because they support it or because they disagree with it.

TIP #2: SNOWBALLING Snowballing is the process where researchers will begin with a select number of articles they have identified relevant/strongly supports their topic and then search each articles' references reviewing the studies cited to determine if they are relevant to your research.

BONUS POINTS: This process also helps identify key highly cited authors within a topic to help establish the "experts" in the field.

Begin by constructing a focused research question to help you then convert it into an effective search strategy.

  • Identify keywords or synonyms
  • Type of study/resources
  • Which database(s) to search
  • Asking a Good Question (PICO)
  • PICO - Worksheet
  • What Is a PICOT Question?

Seminal Works: Search Key Indexing/Citation Databases

  • Google Scholar
  • Web of Science

TIP – How to Locate Seminal Works

  • DO NOT: Limit by date range or you might overlook the seminal works
  • DO: Look at highly cited references (Seminal articles are frequently referred to “cited” in the research)
  • DO: Search citation databases like Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar

Web Resources

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of published information on a subject area. Conducting a literature review demands a careful examination of a body of literature that has been published that helps answer your research question (See PICO). Literature reviewed includes scholarly journals, scholarly books, authoritative databases, primary sources and grey literature.

A literature review attempts to answer the following:

  • What is known about the subject?
  • What is the chronology of knowledge about my subject?
  • Are there any gaps in the literature?
  • Is there a consensus/debate on issues?
  • Create a clear research question/statement
  • Define the scope of the review include limitations (i.e. gender, age, location, nationality...)
  • Search existing literature including classic works on your topic and grey literature
  • Evaluate results and the evidence (Avoid discounting information that contradicts your research)
  • Track and organize references
  • How to conduct an effective literature search.
  • Social Work Literature Review Guidelines (OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab)

What is PICO?

The PICO model can help you formulate a good clinical question. Sometimes it's referred to as PICO-T, containing an optional 5th factor. 

Search Example

literature review topic nursing

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What are Systematic Reviews? (3 minutes, 24 second YouTube Video)

Systematic Literature Reviews: Steps & Resources

literature review topic nursing

These steps for conducting a systematic literature review are listed below . 

Also see subpages for more information about:

  • The different types of literature reviews, including systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis methods
  • Tools & Tutorials

Literature Review & Systematic Review Steps

  • Develop a Focused Question
  • Scope the Literature  (Initial Search)
  • Refine & Expand the Search
  • Limit the Results
  • Download Citations
  • Abstract & Analyze
  • Create Flow Diagram
  • Synthesize & Report Results

1. Develop a Focused   Question 

Consider the PICO Format: Population/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome

Focus on defining the Population or Problem and Intervention (don't narrow by Comparison or Outcome just yet!)

"What are the effects of the Pilates method for patients with low back pain?"

Tools & Additional Resources:

  • PICO Question Help
  • Stillwell, Susan B., DNP, RN, CNE; Fineout-Overholt, Ellen, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN; Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN; Williamson, Kathleen M., PhD, RN Evidence-Based Practice, Step by Step: Asking the Clinical Question, AJN The American Journal of Nursing : March 2010 - Volume 110 - Issue 3 - p 58-61 doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000368959.11129.79

2. Scope the Literature

A "scoping search" investigates the breadth and/or depth of the initial question or may identify a gap in the literature. 

Eligible studies may be located by searching in:

  • Background sources (books, point-of-care tools)
  • Article databases
  • Trial registries
  • Grey literature
  • Cited references
  • Reference lists

When searching, if possible, translate terms to controlled vocabulary of the database. Use text word searching when necessary.

Use Boolean operators to connect search terms:

  • Combine separate concepts with AND  (resulting in a narrower search)
  • Connecting synonyms with OR  (resulting in an expanded search)

Search:  pilates AND ("low back pain"  OR  backache )

Video Tutorials - Translating PICO Questions into Search Queries

  • Translate Your PICO Into a Search in PubMed (YouTube, Carrie Price, 5:11) 
  • Translate Your PICO Into a Search in CINAHL (YouTube, Carrie Price, 4:56)

3. Refine & Expand Your Search

Expand your search strategy with synonymous search terms harvested from:

  • database thesauri
  • reference lists
  • relevant studies


(pilates OR exercise movement techniques) AND ("low back pain" OR backache* OR sciatica OR lumbago OR spondylosis)

As you develop a final, reproducible strategy for each database, save your strategies in a:

  • a personal database account (e.g., MyNCBI for PubMed)
  • Log in with your NYU credentials
  • Open and "Make a Copy" to create your own tracker for your literature search strategies

4. Limit Your Results

Use database filters to limit your results based on your defined inclusion/exclusion criteria.  In addition to relying on the databases' categorical filters, you may also need to manually screen results.  

  • Limit to Article type, e.g.,:  "randomized controlled trial" OR multicenter study
  • Limit by publication years, age groups, language, etc.

NOTE: Many databases allow you to filter to "Full Text Only".  This filter is  not recommended . It excludes articles if their full text is not available in that particular database (CINAHL, PubMed, etc), but if the article is relevant, it is important that you are able to read its title and abstract, regardless of 'full text' status. The full text is likely to be accessible through another source (a different database, or Interlibrary Loan).  

  • Filters in PubMed
  • CINAHL Advanced Searching Tutorial

5. Download Citations

Selected citations and/or entire sets of search results can be downloaded from the database into a citation management tool. If you are conducting a systematic review that will require reporting according to PRISMA standards, a citation manager can help you keep track of the number of articles that came from each database, as well as the number of duplicate records.

In Zotero, you can create a Collection for the combined results set, and sub-collections for the results from each database you search.  You can then use Zotero's 'Duplicate Items" function to find and merge duplicate records.

File structure of a Zotero library, showing a combined pooled set, and sub folders representing results from individual databases.

  • Citation Managers - General Guide

6. Abstract and Analyze

  • Migrate citations to data collection/extraction tool
  • Screen Title/Abstracts for inclusion/exclusion
  • Screen and appraise full text for relevance, methods, 
  • Resolve disagreements by consensus

Covidence is a web-based tool that enables you to work with a team to screen titles/abstracts and full text for inclusion in your review, as well as extract data from the included studies.

Screenshot of the Covidence interface, showing Title and abstract screening phase.

  • Covidence Support
  • Critical Appraisal Tools
  • Data Extraction Tools

7. Create Flow Diagram

The PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) flow diagram is a visual representation of the flow of records through different phases of a systematic review.  It depicts the number of records identified, included and excluded.  It is best used in conjunction with the PRISMA checklist .

Example PRISMA diagram showing number of records identified, duplicates removed, and records excluded.

Example from: Stotz, S. A., McNealy, K., Begay, R. L., DeSanto, K., Manson, S. M., & Moore, K. R. (2021). Multi-level diabetes prevention and treatment interventions for Native people in the USA and Canada: A scoping review. Current Diabetes Reports, 2 (11), 46.

  • PRISMA Flow Diagram Generator (, Haddaway et al. )
  • PRISMA Diagram Templates  (Word and PDF)
  • Make a copy of the file to fill out the template
  • Image can be downloaded as PDF, PNG, JPG, or SVG
  • Covidence generates a PRISMA diagram that is automatically updated as records move through the review phases

8. Synthesize & Report Results

There are a number of reporting guideline available to guide the synthesis and reporting of results in systematic literature reviews.

It is common to organize findings in a matrix, also known as a Table of Evidence (ToE).

Example of a review matrix, using Microsoft Excel, showing the results of a systematic literature review.

  • Reporting Guidelines for Systematic Reviews
  • Download a sample template of a health sciences review matrix  (GoogleSheets)

Steps modified from: 

Cook, D. A., & West, C. P. (2012). Conducting systematic reviews in medical education: a stepwise approach.   Medical Education , 46 (10), 943–952.

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Literature Review Overview

What is a Literature Review? Why Are They Important?

A literature review is important because it presents the "state of the science" or accumulated knowledge on a specific topic. It summarizes, analyzes, and compares the available research, reporting study strengths and weaknesses, results, gaps in the research, conclusions, and authors’ interpretations.

Tips and techniques for conducting a literature review are described more fully in the subsequent boxes:

  • Literature review steps
  • Strategies for organizing the information for your review
  • Literature reviews sections
  • In-depth resources to assist in writing a literature review
  • Templates to start your review
  • Literature review examples

Literature Review Steps

literature review topic nursing

Graphic used with permission: Torres, E. Librarian, Hawai'i Pacific University

1. Choose a topic and define your research question

  • Try to choose a topic of interest. You will be working with this subject for several weeks to months.
  • Ideas for topics can be found by scanning medical news sources (e.g MedPage Today), journals / magazines, work experiences, interesting patient cases, or family or personal health issues.
  • Do a bit of background reading on topic ideas to familiarize yourself with terminology and issues. Note the words and terms that are used.
  • Develop a focused research question using PICO(T) or other framework (FINER, SPICE, etc - there are many options) to help guide you.
  • Run a few sample database searches to make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.
  • If possible, discuss your topic with your professor. 

2. Determine the scope of your review

The scope of your review will be determined by your professor during your program. Check your assignment requirements for parameters for the Literature Review.

  • How many studies will you need to include?
  • How many years should it cover? (usually 5-7 depending on the professor)
  • For the nurses, are you required to limit to nursing literature?

3. Develop a search plan

  • Determine which databases to search. This will depend on your topic. If you are not sure, check your program specific library website (Physician Asst / Nursing / Health Services Admin) for recommendations.
  • Create an initial search string using the main concepts from your research (PICO, etc) question. Include synonyms and related words connected by Boolean operators
  • Contact your librarian for assistance, if needed.

4. Conduct searches and find relevant literature

  • Keep notes as you search - tracking keywords and search strings used in each database in order to avoid wasting time duplicating a search that has already been tried
  • Read abstracts and write down new terms to search as you find them
  • Check MeSH or other subject headings listed in relevant articles for additional search terms
  • Scan author provided keywords if available
  • Check the references of relevant articles looking for other useful articles (ancestry searching)
  • Check articles that have cited your relevant article for more useful articles (descendancy searching). Both PubMed and CINAHL offer Cited By links
  • Revise the search to broaden or narrow your topic focus as you peruse the available literature
  • Conducting a literature search is a repetitive process. Searches can be revised and re-run multiple times during the process.
  • Track the citations for your relevant articles in a software citation manager such as RefWorks, Zotero, or Mendeley

5. Review the literature

  • Read the full articles. Do not rely solely on the abstracts. Authors frequently cannot include all results within the confines of an abstract. Exclude articles that do not address your research question.
  • While reading, note research findings relevant to your project and summarize. Are the findings conflicting? There are matrices available than can help with organization. See the Organizing Information box below.
  • Critique / evaluate the quality of the articles, and record your findings in your matrix or summary table. Tools are available to prompt you what to look for. (See Resources for Appraising a Research Study box on the HSA, Nursing , and PA guides )
  • You may need to revise your search and re-run it based on your findings.

6. Organize and synthesize

  • Compile the findings and analysis from each resource into a single narrative.
  • Using an outline can be helpful. Start broad, addressing the overall findings and then narrow, discussing each resource and how it relates to your question and to the other resources.
  • Cite as you write to keep sources organized.
  • Write in structured paragraphs using topic sentences and transition words to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
  • Don't present one study after another, but rather relate one study's findings to another. Speak to how the studies are connected and how they relate to your work.

Organizing Information

Options to assist in organizing sources and information :

1. Synthesis Matrix

  • helps provide overview of the literature
  • information from individual sources is entered into a grid to enable writers to discern patterns and themes
  • article summary, analysis, or results
  • thoughts, reflections, or issues
  • each reference gets its own row
  • mind maps, concept maps, flowcharts
  • at top of page record PICO or research question
  • record major concepts / themes from literature
  • list concepts that branch out from major concepts underneath - keep going downward hierarchically, until most specific ideas are recorded
  • enclose concepts in circles and connect the concept with lines - add brief explanation as needed

3. Summary Table

  • information is recorded in a grid to help with recall and sorting information when writing
  • allows comparing and contrasting individual studies easily
  • purpose of study
  • methodology (study population, data collection tool)

Efron, S. E., & Ravid, R. (2019). Writing the literature review : A practical guide . Guilford Press.

Literature Review Sections

  • Lit reviews can be part of a larger paper / research study or they can be the focus of the paper
  • Lit reviews focus on research studies to provide evidence
  • New topics may not have much that has been published

* The sections included may depend on the purpose of the literature review (standalone paper or section within a research paper)

Standalone Literature Review (aka Narrative Review):

  • presents your topic or PICO question
  • includes the why of the literature review and your goals for the review.
  • provides background for your the topic and previews the key points
  • Narrative Reviews: tmay not have an explanation of methods.
  • include where the search was conducted (which databases) what subject terms or keywords were used, and any limits or filters that were applied and why - this will help others re-create the search
  • describe how studies were analyzed for inclusion or exclusion
  • review the purpose and answer the research question
  • thematically - using recurring themes in the literature
  • chronologically - present the development of the topic over time
  • methodological - compare and contrast findings based on various methodologies used to research the topic (e.g. qualitative vs quantitative, etc.)
  • theoretical - organized content based on various theories
  • provide an overview of the main points of each source then synthesize the findings into a coherent summary of the whole
  • present common themes among the studies
  • compare and contrast the various study results
  • interpret the results and address the implications of the findings
  • do the results support the original hypothesis or conflict with it
  • provide your own analysis and interpretation (eg. discuss the significance of findings; evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the studies, noting any problems)
  • discuss common and unusual patterns and offer explanations
  •  stay away from opinions, personal biases and unsupported recommendations
  • summarize the key findings and relate them back to your PICO/research question
  • note gaps in the research and suggest areas for further research
  • this section should not contain "new" information that had not been previously discussed in one of the sections above
  • provide a list of all the studies and other sources used in proper APA 7

Literature Review as Part of a Research Study Manuscript:

  • Compares the study with other research and includes how a study fills a gap in the research.
  • Focus on the body of the review which includes the synthesized Findings and Discussion

Literature Reviews vs Systematic Reviews

Systematic Reviews are NOT the same as a Literature Review:

Literature Reviews:

  • Literature reviews may or may not follow strict systematic methods to find, select, and analyze articles, but rather they selectively and broadly review the literature on a topic
  • Research included in a Literature Review can be "cherry-picked" and therefore, can be very subjective

Systematic Reviews:

  • Systemic reviews are designed to provide a comprehensive summary of the evidence for a focused research question
  • rigorous and strictly structured, using standardized reporting guidelines (e.g. PRISMA, see link below)
  • uses exhaustive, systematic searches of all relevant databases
  • best practice dictates search strategies are peer reviewed
  • uses predetermined study inclusion and exclusion criteria in order to minimize bias
  • aims to capture and synthesize all literature (including unpublished research - grey literature) that meet the predefined criteria on a focused topic resulting in high quality evidence

Literature Review Examples

  • Breastfeeding initiation and support: A literature review of what women value and the impact of early discharge (2017). Women and Birth : Journal of the Australian College of Midwives
  • Community-based participatory research to promote healthy diet and nutrition and prevent and control obesity among African-Americans: A literature review (2017). Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Restricted to Detroit Mercy Users

  • Vitamin D deficiency in individuals with a spinal cord injury: A literature review (2017). Spinal Cord

Resources for Writing a Literature Review

These sources have been used in developing this guide.

Cover Art

Resources Used on This Page

Aveyard, H. (2010). Doing a literature review in health and social care : A practical guide . McGraw-Hill Education.

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Writing a literature review . Purdue University.

Torres, E. (2021, October 21). Nursing - graduate studies research guide: Literature review. Hawai'i Pacific University Libraries. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from

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What is a Literature Review?

Key questions for a literature review, examples of literature reviews, useful links, evidence matrix for literature reviews.

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The Scholarly Conversation

A literature review provides an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic. It allows the author to synthesize and place into context the research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic. It helps map the different approaches to a given question and reveals patterns. It forms the foundation for the author’s subsequent research and justifies the significance of the new investigation.

A literature review can be a short introductory section of a research article or a report or policy paper that focuses on recent research. Or, in the case of dissertations, theses, and review articles, it can be an extensive review of all relevant research.

  • The format is usually a bibliographic essay; sources are briefly cited within the body of the essay, with full bibliographic citations at the end.
  • The introduction should define the topic and set the context for the literature review. It will include the author's perspective or point of view on the topic, how they have defined the scope of the topic (including what's not included), and how the review will be organized. It can point out overall trends, conflicts in methodology or conclusions, and gaps in the research.
  • In the body of the review, the author should organize the research into major topics and subtopics. These groupings may be by subject, (e.g., globalization of clothing manufacturing), type of research (e.g., case studies), methodology (e.g., qualitative), genre, chronology, or other common characteristics. Within these groups, the author can then discuss the merits of each article and analyze and compare the importance of each article to similar ones.
  • The conclusion will summarize the main findings, make clear how this review of the literature supports (or not) the research to follow, and may point the direction for further research.
  • The list of references will include full citations for all of the items mentioned in the literature review.

A literature review should try to answer questions such as

  • Who are the key researchers on this topic?
  • What has been the focus of the research efforts so far and what is the current status?
  • How have certain studies built on prior studies? Where are the connections? Are there new interpretations of the research?
  • Have there been any controversies or debate about the research? Is there consensus? Are there any contradictions?
  • Which areas have been identified as needing further research? Have any pathways been suggested?
  • How will your topic uniquely contribute to this body of knowledge?
  • Which methodologies have researchers used and which appear to be the most productive?
  • What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?
  • How does your particular topic fit into the larger context of what has already been done?
  • How has the research that has already been done help frame your current investigation ?

Example of a literature review at the beginning of an article: Forbes, C. C., Blanchard, C. M., Mummery, W. K., & Courneya, K. S. (2015, March). Prevalence and correlates of strength exercise among breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors . Oncology Nursing Forum, 42(2), 118+. Retrieved from Example of a comprehensive review of the literature: Wilson, J. L. (2016). An exploration of bullying behaviours in nursing: a review of the literature.   British Journal Of Nursing ,  25 (6), 303-306. For additional examples, see:

Galvan, J., Galvan, M., & ProQuest. (2017). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (Seventh ed.). [Electronic book]

Pan, M., & Lopez, M. (2008). Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (3rd ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Pub. [ Q180.55.E9 P36 2008]

  • Write a Literature Review (UCSC)
  • Literature Reviews (Purdue)
  • Literature Reviews: overview (UNC)
  • Review of Literature (UW-Madison)

The  Evidence Matrix  can help you  organize your research  before writing your lit review.  Use it to  identify patterns  and commonalities in the articles you have found--similar methodologies ?  common  theoretical frameworks ? It helps you make sure that all your major concepts covered. It also helps you see how your research fits into the context  of the overall topic.

  • Evidence Matrix Special thanks to Dr. Cindy Stearns, SSU Sociology Dept, for permission to use this Matrix as an example.
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Doing a Literature Review in Nursing, Health and Social Care

Doing a Literature Review in Nursing, Health and Social Care

  • Michael Coughlan - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Patricia Cronin - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Description

A clear and practical guide to completing a literature review in nursing and healthcare studies.

Providing students with straightforward guidance on how to successfully carry out a literature review as part of a research project or dissertation, this book uses examples and activities to demonstrate how to complete each step correctly, from start to finish, and highlights how to avoid common mistakes.

The third edition includes:

  • Expert advice on selecting and researching a topic
  • A chapter outlining the different types of literature review
  • Increased focus on Critical Appraisal Tools and how to use them effectively
  • New real-world examples presenting best practice
  • Instructions on writing up and presenting the final piece of work

Perfect for any nursing or healthcare student new to literature reviews and for anyone who needs a refresher in this important topic.

See what’s new to this edition by selecting the Features tab on this page. Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email [email protected] . Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to .

For assistance with your order: Please email us at [email protected] or connect with your SAGE representative.

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Praise for the previous edition:

'This book is an excellent resource for practitioners wishing to develop their knowledge and understanding of reviewing literature and the processes involved. It uses uncomplicated language to signpost the reader effortlessly through key aspects of research processes. Practitioners will find this an invaluable companion for navigating through evidence to identify quality literature applicable to health and social care practice.' 

'Students often struggle with writing an effective literature review and this invaluable guide will help to allay their concerns. Key terms are clearly explained, and the inclusion of learning outcomes is a helpful feature for students and lecturers alike.  The examples are also very helpful, particularly for less confident students.  This is an accessible yet authoritative guide which I can thoroughly recommend.' 

'A must have - this book provides useful information and guidance to students and professionals alike. It guides the reader through various research methods in a theoretical and pragmatic manner.' 

' It's a very readable, concise, and accessible introduction to undertaking a literature review in the field of healthcare. The book’s layout has a logical format which really helped me to think methodically about my research question. An excellent reference for undergraduates who are about to undertake their first literature review.' 

'This book is an essential resource for students. Clearly written and excellently structured, with helpful study tools throughout, it takes the reader step by step through the literature review process in an easy, informative and accessible manner. This text gives students the skills they need to successfully complete their own review.' 

'The updating of the chapters will be exceptionally helpful given the rapid changes in online availability of resources and open-access literature.'  

Excellent resource. Useful for any stage of studying

Excellent text for masters and doctoral level students

An excellent primer to help the level 7 students write their systemised review for the assignment.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the practical process of literature review in healthcare. It contains all details required to conduct a review by students.

This is an excellent clear and concise book on undertaking literature reviews being particularly good at demystifying jargon. It is timely given the move to student dissertations being primarily literature reviews in the current Covid pandemic. However nearly all the examples are drawn from nursing and health making the text less useful for social care and social work. A little disappointing given the title. SW students are likely to gravitate to texts where their subject is more prominent for a primary text.

Accessible, informative, step to step guide

This is a really helpful, accessible text for students and academic staff alike.

A really good addition to the repertoire of skills and techniques for understanding the essential process of literature reviewing.

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Nursing Research

Library Research Guides - University of Wisconsin Ebling Library

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  • Conducting a Literature Review

Nursing Resources : Conducting a Literature Review

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  • PICO-Clinical Question
  • Types of PICO Question (D, T, P, E)
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  • Pre-processed Evidence
  • Measurement Tools, Surveys, Scales
  • Types of Studies
  • Table of Evidence
  • Qualitative vs Quantitative
  • Types of Research within Qualitative and Quantitative
  • Cohort vs Case studies
  • Independent Variable VS Dependent Variable
  • Sampling Methods and Statistics
  • Systematic Reviews
  • Review vs Systematic Review vs ETC...
  • Standard, Guideline, Protocol, Policy
  • Additional Guidelines Sources
  • Peer Reviewed Articles
  • Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis
  • Writing a Research Paper or Poster
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Levels of Evidence (I-VII)
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  • Validity Threats
  • Threats to Validity of Research Designs
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What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essay that surveys, summarizes, links together, and assesses research in a given field. It surveys the literature by reviewing a large body of work on a subject; it summarizes by noting the main conclusions and findings of the research; it links together works in the literature by showing how the information fits into the overall academic discussion and how the information relates to one another; it assesses the literature by noting areas of weakness, expansion, and contention. This is the essentials of literature review construction by discussing the major sectional elements, their purpose, how they are constructed, and how they all fit together.

All literature reviews have major sections:

  • Introduction: that indicates the general state of the literature on a given topic;
  • Methodology: an overview of how, where, and what subject terms used to conducted your search so it may be reproducable
  • Findings: a summary of the major findings in that field;
  • Discussion: a general progression from wider studies to smaller, more specifically-focused studies;
  • Conclusion: for each major section that again notes the overall state of the research, albeit with a focus on the major synthesized conclusions, problems in the research, and even possible avenues of further research.

In Literature Reviews, it is Not Appropriate to:

  • State your own opinions on the subject (unless you have evidence to support such claims).  
  • State what you think nurses should do (unless you have evidence to support such claims).
  • Provide long descriptive accounts of your subject with no reference to research studies.
  • Provide numerous definitions, signs/symptoms, treatment and complications of a particular illness without focusing on research studies to provide evidence and the primary purpose of the literature review.
  • Discuss research studies in isolation from each other.

Remember, a literature review is not a book report. A literature review is focus, succinct, organized, and is free of personal beliefs or unsubstantiated tidbits.

  • Types of Literature Reviews A detailed explanation of the different types of reviews and required citation retrieval numbers

Outline of a Literture Review

literature review topic nursing

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Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students

(15 reviews)

literature review topic nursing

Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University Vancouver

Sue F. Phelps, Washington State University Vancouver

Copyright Year: 2017

Publisher: Rebus Community

Language: English

Formats Available

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Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Rebecca Appleton, Professor of Nursing, Marshall University on 5/7/24

It is very through in covering the steps of a well written literature review read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

It is very through in covering the steps of a well written literature review

Content Accuracy rating: 5

I have not read the entire book, but what I did read was very good.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

It is up to date, but doing a Literature Review is covered in a step-wise manner, includes writing the LR>

Clarity rating: 5

Very clear step-by-step approach

Consistency rating: 5

It is very consistent!

Modularity rating: 5

Chapters are orderly and succinct

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

Strait forward order.

Interface rating: 5

I did not notice Interface issues.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors were noticed.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

I did not notice any problems with cultural Insensitivity

I plan to use this in a Nursing Research class for Graduate Students, and I am trying a new approach to finding the best Research Evidence on a Nursing Topic. Can't wait to see if this help my graduate students understand research literature better.

Reviewed by Barbara Schneider, Professor, University of Texas at Arlington on 4/29/24

This textbook covers the range of topics important for a literature review, including formulating a research question, finding scholarly articles, evaluating sources, and synthesizing source content. The videos are great supplements to the text. read more

This textbook covers the range of topics important for a literature review, including formulating a research question, finding scholarly articles, evaluating sources, and synthesizing source content. The videos are great supplements to the text.

Overall, the content is accurate. Consider labeling Nursing as a health profession/discipline.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

Much of the content remains relevant. Updated examples would be helpful to today's graduate students.

The textbook is clearly written.

Consistency rating: 4

In general, the text is consistent. There could be more consistency in the formatting of the references.

The modularity is an asset.

There is a logical flow to the topics.

The links to outside materials are helpful.

No grammatical errors were evident.

The examples seemed inclusive.

Those who are new to writing a literature review would find this book useful.

Reviewed by Yolanda Griffiths, Professor of Occupational Therapy, Drake University on 12/15/21

The authors were thorough and very organized in stepping readers through the process of conducting and writing a literature review. Each area is appropriately indexed and examples are provided in a variety of ways. The synthesis section is... read more

The authors were thorough and very organized in stepping readers through the process of conducting and writing a literature review. Each area is appropriately indexed and examples are provided in a variety of ways. The synthesis section is especially useful as students often do not understand what this means. Perhaps some content on plagiarism would benefit this section as well. The flow of the material easily guides users logically through each topic.

The content is accurate and unbiased. The content is presented in an easy to understand way with videos, and examples.

The relevance of the content is classic and the text should be pertinent for many years. The links included in the text are very useful and should be easy for authors to check periodically. Using a digital media is more relevant to today's students than print textbooks. Each section addresses a reasonable chunk of information.

The book is user friendly, written in an easy to understand manner, and graphics or links add to the understanding of the content. Definitions are clearly written. Such as clarifying the types of literature reviews will be useful for students. Providing a test yourself section at the end of sections allows the reader to check if any content was confusing or not clear.

The text is consistently laid out in a logical manner which helps to unpack content which may be new or unfamiliar to the reader/student.

The amount of content allocated to each chapter is appropriate and will be easy to assign readings. The chapter headings are clear and the embedded videos, charts and test questions enlighten each subunit. The hyperlinking in the table of contents helps to navigate the chapters well.

The organization of the content is logical and easy to understand the process of completing a literature review. The book is laid out much like a road map where students can see the big picture as well as the supporting parts to the process. The references by chapter are very useful.

The graphics were clear, and the non-serif font aids in eye fatigue. One recommendation is to lower the brightness of the bold blue text in the table of contents to reduce eye fatigue. There was no problem to play the videos and the audio was clear. All links worked well.

There were no grammatical errors. There were a few typos such as needs a space between "A specific", 2.3 in the phrase "Articles by the type of periodical in which an article it is published" perhaps remove the word "it", in the table on page 41. under Nursing , the word clinical is spelled "Cclinical", remove the capital C.

No evidence of cultural bias or insensitivity.

I am very excited to use this textbook in my doctoral level occupational therapy class. The inclusion of concise explanations of PICO and SPICE will be very useful. This will be a wonderful resource for graduate students and being mindful of costs for textbooks is compassionate.

Reviewed by Susan Bassett, Instructor, Nursing Graduate Program, Eastern New Mexico University on 11/9/21

Each chapter presented a different aspect of doing a literature review. This was organized and orderly. The index/table of contents was very detailed which allowed the reader to easily use this book as a reference while conducting a literature... read more

Each chapter presented a different aspect of doing a literature review. This was organized and orderly. The index/table of contents was very detailed which allowed the reader to easily use this book as a reference while conducting a literature review.

The content appeared to be entirely accurate. It did a good job of combining information for both education and nursing students. The authors addressed pertinent points of research study development as well as the specific methodology of approaching a research-focused literature review.

The text was up-to-date in methodology, which should not change frequently. The many links to websites were very helpful and yet were basic enough that they should be relevant for years. If they do need updating, the are clearly presented and should be easily updated. The breakdown to very small "chunks" of information per section will help in easily updating specific parts of information.

The book presented a rather complex topic in an extremely straight-forward, easy to read, clear manner. Each small "chunk" of information was identified per section numbering which correlated with movement through the content. The writing was professional and yet not overwhelmed with discipline-specific terminology. Where potentially new terminology was presented, it was immediately followed with definitions and examples.

The book was well-organized and moved along the structure set out early in the book. Content was gradually unfolded, as divided per chapter. There was a bit of repetition (probably about three examples) where the authors attempted to tie information together. Although this stood out to a reader, it seemed more useful in organizing than detrimental in repetition.

The book was subdivided into chapters and then into many small modules of discrete information. It could easily be assigned in part. It could also readily be used as a reference for students to go back and easily find processes or pieces of information they might need later.

I found the continual clear and succinct organization of information to be a defining highlight of this book. When presenting early steps of the research process and then linking these steps with how to conduct a literature review and subsequenty organize and write a literature review, this book is presenting numerous procews steps that must work in tandem. This book did that in a clear and easily readable fashion.

The one feature that did distract me was within the bullet points of 1.3.1. "Types of Reviews". There was a mix of complete and incomplete sentences that worked to convey information succinctly, but distracted me as a reader.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

I did find several spelling and grammaticl errors (, ,, 2.1.1, 2.3,, ,, 2.3 Table A., p. 41, p. 53, p. 54). Although small errors (a few letters or spacing) they should be corrected.

I did not find any mistakes in cultural appropriateness The content did repeatedly talk about bias reduction in the process of writing a literature review

I thought this book was very well-written and contained great information for my students. The links provided were very appropriate and helpful. The Table "Guide to searching for literature at various stages of the scholarly communication process” was particularly helpful. I will immediately begin using portions of the content in this book to support my research class. Additionally, I will recommend the entire book as a reference for the dedicated student (or one intending to go forward to a doctoral level of education in nursing). Thank you for collating all this information and helpful links into one clear, easily readable and understandable document.

Reviewed by Leah Nillas, Associate Professor, Illinois Wesleyan University on 9/6/21

This book addresses the basic steps in the process of writing a literature review research. Chapter 2 (What is a Literature Review?) needs to be retitled. I think Chapter 1 (Introduction) clearly defines and characterizes literature review as a... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This book addresses the basic steps in the process of writing a literature review research. Chapter 2 (What is a Literature Review?) needs to be retitled. I think Chapter 1 (Introduction) clearly defines and characterizes literature review as a research category. Chapter 2 focuses more on the creation of information, information cycle, and selecting appropriate sources. Chapter 7 (Synthesizing Sources) and Chapter 8 (Writing the Lit Review) can still be improved to incorporate specific strategies in synthesizing research literature and examples of writing styles through analysis of a variety of published examples. Writing a synthesis is a challenging skill for most novice researchers.

Information shared is accurate. I did not notice any content error.

Main content is up-to-date. A few citations maybe dated but they are necessary in illustrating different examples of literature reviews. It will be easy to include additional relevant examples of research work that are published recently.

I like how this text is written. Tone is reader friendly and narrative is accessible to novice researchers.

Clearly consistent throughout the chapters.

Clear and purposeful "chunking" of information per chapter.

Readers can easily follow the organization of topics and content.

No obvious interface issues. Appropriate use of multimedia tools.

No grammatical errors.

Text is culturally sensitive. Additional readings, references, or examples can easily be added to incorporate research conducted by diverse authors or literature reviews which focus on diversity and inclusion issues in education and nursing.

This is a good introductory literature review text even for undergraduate education students. Clear discussion of the nature of the research and the writing process. The use of videos and images is helpful in providing multimodal approach in explaining topics or processes. Writing style and tone make the text accessible to novice researchers.

Reviewed by Rebecca Scheckler, Assistant Professor, Radford University on 7/6/20

Two missing topics were inter-library loan and how to avoid plagiarism in writing up the literature review. This second is such an important topic that it deserves its own chapter. read more

Two missing topics were inter-library loan and how to avoid plagiarism in writing up the literature review. This second is such an important topic that it deserves its own chapter.

It is accurate. I found no inaccuracies.

This book is very relevant. Every advanced undergraduate or graduate students requires such a book

I found the book clear. The videos interspersed within the book added much to the clarity. There are lots of good diagrams that add to the clarity. They are not all original but their sources are all cited. The section on boolean searches, usage of asterisks and quotes in searches is very helpful and appropriate although often left out of discussion of searches.

The book is consistent in terminology and framework.

The chapters were cohesive.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

I like the links to within the text to the references and other matter. What is needed are back links to the text from the references. I also would have liked links from the exercises to the answers of the exercises.

Interface rating: 4

See navigation links mentioned above. The grey literature link is broken.

I saw no grammatical problems. There are many bulleted lists rather than text which is appropriate to this topic.

There could be more attention to cultural context in the frequent examples.

I wondered why nursing and education were combined. They are similar in nature but not identical. separation them out into two books might be appropriate.

Reviewed by Lisa Shooman, Associate Professor, Worcester State University on 6/29/20

Overall, this book provides a very comprehensive and thorough roadmap for creating a literature review. The videos assist the reader in crystallizing the information presented in the text. There is an effective index and glossary that provide... read more

Overall, this book provides a very comprehensive and thorough roadmap for creating a literature review. The videos assist the reader in crystallizing the information presented in the text. There is an effective index and glossary that provide helpful navigation to the reader.

The content is detailed, clearly explained, error-free, and unbiased. My students would greatly benefit from the lucid information presented in this text to guide them with developing a literature review. I would be eager to adopt this book for my students.

The content is timely and will not be quickly out-of-date. The quiz questions at the end of each chapter are relevant and will aid students with the consolidation of the material. The online format allows for updating, and the version history at the end of the text clearly indicated that the book was updated recently.

The text is clear and not ridden with any excess jargon /technical terminology. Pictures, graphics, and videos further elucidate the text. There are helpful questions that stimulate thought and lists that help to organize information.

The internal consistency in the text is excellent. However, Chapter 1.1 and Chapter 2 have the same title and it would benefit the reader to have different titles that would highlight the differences between these two sections. Chapter 1.1 is an overview and Chapter 2 dives into more depth.

The text is efficiently divided into smaller reading sections that are demarcated by numbers. The subsections in each chapter can be assigned at different points in the course. The text is organized logically and systematically that assists the reader with comprehension and provides a roadmap for creating an effective literature review.

The entire text is presented coherently and concisely. The organization of the text takes the reader through the process of creating an effective literature review. It can be used by multiple health professions, although the length of the text is relatively short it includes a considerable depth of the material. Other disciplines that would benefit from using this test in their courses may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology students.

The interface of the text is simple and easy to follow. The cover of the text would benefit from photos, color, and graphic design to appeal to the modern digital reader.

No grammatical or spelling errors are noted.

No cultural biases existed in the text in any way. There are no individuals highlighted in the book, and due to the technical nature of the subject matter, the text is inclusive to a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. No offensive statements are included in this book.

The authors should consider including other health professionals in the title and provide examples that can relate to other health professionals throughout the text. Other health professionals that can benefit from reading this text include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology students. Literature reviews are relevant for many health professionals in their master's and doctorate programs and the text could serve a wider audience.

Reviewed by Ellen Rearick, Assistant Professor, Framingham State University on 6/1/20

This text covers all areas and the process of the integrative review appropriately. It is an engaging text for graduate students new to these assignments. read more

This text covers all areas and the process of the integrative review appropriately. It is an engaging text for graduate students new to these assignments.

This text is well done, very accurate

This text is relevant. The updates needed regarding APA format should be relatively easy to implement.

This text is clear and provides users with definitions and examples of the variety of reviews.

Very well written using consistent terminology throughout.

The text's reading sections are easily accessible and users will find them organized. Each chapter and its sections are presented in the sequence of the process of an integrative review.

Very clear and logical order.

The navigation of this text was problem-free.

No grammatical errors noted.

No issues with cultural insensitivity noted.

This was a well-organized text using videos to reinforce content that would benefit any education or nursing graduate student new to the integrative review process.

Reviewed by Ruth Stoltzfus, Professor of Nursing; Dir., Grad Programs in Nursing, Goshen College on 6/1/19

This text provides everything a graduate student needs to write a literature review in a concise manner. If you look at the digital pdf, there are many strategies to help the reader learn the process - videos, diagrams, and also text. read more

This text provides everything a graduate student needs to write a literature review in a concise manner. If you look at the digital pdf, there are many strategies to help the reader learn the process - videos, diagrams, and also text.

I found no evidence of bias and no errors.

This book has long-term relevance. The content will not quickly out-date.

I really liked the way the textbook is structured. The author is concise which makes the textbook easy to read.

I found no inconsistencies in terminology or other aspects related to the content.

I will adopt this text for a research course I use and will likely assign only specific chapters. I plan to recommend the textbook to another faculty who teaches a comprehensive research course with the idea of assigning only specific sections to read..

The textbook begins with an introduction to the subject matter. Subsequent chapters develop specific aspects related to lit reviews. The textbook provides a nice "how to" for each element of a lit review. Chapters are also organized in a smooth, easy to follow format.

I only looked at the digital pdf and print pdf versions. The print pdf indicates that there are videos to watch, but of course since it is a print pdf, there is no linkage. I think this would be obvious to a savvy reader - that a print pdf will be limited in what the reader can access.

I found no grammatical errors in my quick read.

I found no evidence of cultural bias or insensitivity.

This is the first open textbook that I have encountered. I was expecting it to be flat and boring! However, it was neither of those. There were color diagrams, color photos, and even videos embedded in the textbook.

I have adopted this book for the Research Lit Review course that I am teaching soon. I am impressed!

Reviewed by Melissa Wells, Assistant Professor, University of Mary Washington on 5/1/19

This book helps students in education and nursing complete a literature review, which may be the first time these students are tackling such a task. The chapters break down the process into defining the special genre of a literature review;... read more

This book helps students in education and nursing complete a literature review, which may be the first time these students are tackling such a task. The chapters break down the process into defining the special genre of a literature review; providing tips to get started; suggesting where students can find literature to review; explaining how to evaluate sources; detailing the process of documenting sources; giving advice for synthesizing sources; and finally, putting all of these pieces together into a final literature review. Most significantly, the text provides specific examples of ideas presented in the context of both nursing and education, which makes the content directly relatable to the student's course of study. The conclusion recaps the main points of each chapter in bullet form. The text is lacking both an index and a glossary, which would be additions that could strengthen the text.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The text explains 11 different types of literature reviews that students may encounter or be asked to create. Also, the text is framed to work with multiple methodologies; for example, steps for writing a research question or a hypothesis to frame the literature review are provided. One inconsistency I noted was in diagram 6.2: the APA citation is incorrectly capitalized for the journal title (which should use sentence, not title, capitalization).

The text also includes external links to sources, such as a videos, which provide students with multiple modalities in which to digest the information. An example of a literature review for both education and nursing is provided at the end of the book; instead of embedding these in the text, the hyperlinks refer the reader to the external site. This will be easy to change to a new example in the future, but checks will need to be done to ensure that all such external sources remain actively accessible.

Each chapter opens with learning objectives to help frame the content with which the reader is about to engage. Throughout the text, the language is approachable and reader-friendly. For example, when the text explains more factual components (i.e., what makes a literature review or what the basics of an effective literature review include), this information is presented in bullet points with hyperlinks to the original sources.

Each chapter follows a similar construction, which makes it accessible to the reader. For example, chapters end with a "Practice" and "Check Yourself" section to apply new learning and self-check responses (an answer key is provided in an appendix). Examples in these exercises are either related to nursing or education, continuing with the stated theme of the text.

When I used this text with my own students, I assigned chapters in isolation, since they had already taken a research methods course and were applying that knowledge to create a research proposal in a specific area of study in my course.

The book is organized in such a way that logically walks the reader through the literature review writing process. Clear headings (which are hyperlinked in the table of contents) also allow the reader to jump to specific parts with which they need additional support.

The interface of this document offered a lot of flexibility. Options allowed users to access the text online, or as a download in multiple file types (EPUB, Digital PDF, MOBI, XHTML, Pressbooks XML, Wordpress XML, and Open Document). These formats provide the reader with an opportunity to pick the interface that works best for them.

I did not see any grammatical errors in the text.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

No culturally insensitive/offensive content was noted. A variety of examples of research topics were included from both nursing and education. Of the images/video thumbnails embedded in the text that involved people, all depicted White people except for 2 images; therefore, more intentional selection of culturally diverse visuals would be helpful in future versions of this text.

I feel this text was helpful to my students as they wrote their own literature reviews. The only weakness in their papers that I noted was their organization of their literature review based on themes/topic, which was addressed in Chapters 7- 8. I now know to focus more on this part of literature review writing with future students. This text is approachable and field-specific, and I will be using it again!

Reviewed by Bernita (Bernie) Missal, Professor, Bethel University on 12/14/18

This book includes all areas that a graduate student needs to begin a literature review. However metasynthesis could have also been included in types of literature review. read more

This book includes all areas that a graduate student needs to begin a literature review. However metasynthesis could have also been included in types of literature review.

This book is accurate although missing qualitative research.

Although content is up to date, some of the article examples need to be updated. (Example: articles published in 1981 and 1992 need to be updated to more recent articles.)

The book is clear and easy to follow. Bullet points were used throughout the book with short paragraphs which helps the student.

Each chapter follows the same format with narrative followed by practice and test questions.

Clear subheadings are used throughout the book.

This book is presented in a logical way and easy for the student to follow.

Images are clear and appropriate for the content.

No specific grammar issues were seen.

It would be helpful for students to include additional examples of cultural studies throughout the book

This book is an excellent resource for graduate students. It has helpful information for the preparation and process for a literature review. Examples of written literature reviews in chapter 8 or in an appendix would be helpful for students.

Reviewed by Nancyruth Leibold, Associate Professor, Southwest Minnesota State University on 6/19/18

The text is overall comprehensive, yet it breaks the information up into manageable parts. See the table of contents for an overview of the topics. The text is very quantitative driven in that the focus is on reviewing quantitative studies. The... read more

The text is overall comprehensive, yet it breaks the information up into manageable parts. See the table of contents for an overview of the topics. The text is very quantitative driven in that the focus is on reviewing quantitative studies. The book included information about PICO statements, but did not include PICO(T) or the time variable, which is not always used in every case. Population was included in the PICO explanation, but a bit more information on the population or aggregate narrowing could improve the PICO section. These items do not hinder use of the book, but these items would need further inclusion by the faculty member using the text as specific to the discipline.

The content in the book is very accurate.

The content in the book is current and should not be obsolete within a short period of time. Any updates would be easy to add.

The text is clear and easy to understand.

The internal organization and terminology of the book is consistent and logical

The text is set up in small reading sessions. The videos and learning activities are well done and break up some of the content, so there is a variety of presentation. The tutorials, figures, practice and self-test areas are also fantastic in that they are quality and sprinkled throughout the text.

The topics in the book are presented in clear and organized fashion. I particularly like the upbeat and personal writing tone of the book. This tone makes it seem like the authors are speaking to me.

The text is free of any significant interface issues. The book is available in many formats. I used the book online and I did have one navigational problem and that is when clicking on a video, it does not open in a new tab and so the book is lost and have to start over going in the start to the book. One easy solution to this is to right click your mouse and then select open in new tab to watch videos. That way, your place in the book is not lost.

No grammar problems present.

The book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

Overall, this is a well written textbook and I recommend it!

Reviewed by Marjorie Webb, Professor, Metropolitan State University on 6/19/18

From the Introduction to the Conclusion, the text covers the step-by-step process of conducting a literature review. The text includes topics such as, “Where to find the Literature” and “Synthesizing Sources” that will be useful to graduate... read more

From the Introduction to the Conclusion, the text covers the step-by-step process of conducting a literature review. The text includes topics such as, “Where to find the Literature” and “Synthesizing Sources” that will be useful to graduate nursing students.

The content in the text, including texts, links, and diagrams, is accurate and unbiased. Again, it will aid the graduate nursing student in the long process of conducting a literature review.

The text is current and this type of material does not become dated quickly. The authors did use internet links in the text which will need to be monitored periodically to ensure they are still available. Updates to the text will be relatively easy and straightforward. If media styles change, there may be some challenges to updating.

The text is clear and easy to read. Technical terminology is defined and/or explained.

The text is internally consistent.

The text is organized in sections which facilitates assigning readings based on the subject matter for the class time. It would be pretty easy to divide up this text into easily readable units based on headings and subheadings.

This text is structured well. The topics flow in an organized manner and really help the student see the process of a literature review. The authors discuss the both theory and purpose of the review and the day-to-day logistics of actually performing the review. The day-today organization is not always included in other texts.

The interface is well-done with no distractions.

There was no indication of cultural bias.

I think this text is appropriate for graduate nursing students. Some students struggle with the difference between writing about a topic (generally undergraduate writing) and synthesizing literature on a given topic (generally graduate writing). Chapters seven and eight focus on preparing the graduate student to make the jump to graduate-level writing and should really benefit new graduate students.

Reviewed by Susanna Thornhill, Associate Professor , George Fox University on 3/27/18

This book is fairly comprehensive and offers step-by-step instructions for conceptualizing/researching a literature review. The Table of Contents is well-organized to reflect the book's progression, from establishing the basics of why to write a... read more

This book is fairly comprehensive and offers step-by-step instructions for conceptualizing/researching a literature review. The Table of Contents is well-organized to reflect the book's progression, from establishing the basics of why to write a literature review and the various types of literature reviews, to getting started with formulating a research idea/question, finding and evaluating sources, synthesizing sources, and guidelines on writing the literature review, itself. I found this text to be a straightforward guide for my graduate students in education, and while I worried at first that the merging of education and nursing topics would prove distracting to my education students, I don't believe this was the case.

One thing that was not comprehensive in this book was discussion of qualitative research and methodologies as a valid means of conceptualizing research aims. I hoped for a more balanced discussion between methodological branches as it applied to literature reviews; this book overly favored quantitative methodologies and studies in terms of its direction to readers about how to conceptualize/choose a topic and design a research question in relation to it. Variables that cannot be measured are not inherently un-researchable, which is the conclusion put forth in this textbook. This might serve nursing students better than education students in terms of their discipline's requirements, but it still represents an element that could be improved.

Finally, while the background on what a literature review is, how to conceptualize research, and how to search for and synthesize research was all valuable, the chapter on actually writing the literature review was a bit thin, simply offering tips for introduction, body, and conclusion and some questions for self-evaluation. Some of the most difficult work for students writing a literature review is achieving proper focus, organization, hierarchy of themes, balance in treatment of related topics, etc. None of these issues were discussed in the chapter pertaining to the writing of a literature review.

I did not have any concerns about the book's accuracy. Content was accurate, albeit biased to quantitative and positivist views of research. I would have liked to see it include additional prompts to support students in conceptualizing and valuing qualitative research; this is an area where I had to supplement course readings with additional texts.

The only significant error I could discern in the text was a lack of an Answer Key corresponding to the questions posed at the end of each chapter.

Content is up-to-date and seems like it will hold meaning well over the next few years. The only things I anticipate might go out-of-date is technological information on things like citation managers, search guidelines, and database information. This is easily updatable with future versions of the text. In my view, ERIC is not the best database for educational research and I have confirmed this with educational librarians who support my students, yet it is the only one identified in this text as the best subject-specific source of educational research; this could be revised for additional relevance.

I noticed no issues with the book's clarity. The authors write in a clear and straightforward style, making the text easy to read. Overall, they did well writing for students across two disciplines by avoiding nursing or education-specific terms that would have been problematic to readers in the other discipline.

The book is internally consistent and did not have issues with terminology or framework.

No issues with the book's modularity. Chapter headings and sub-headings were appropriately paced and spaced. I assigned this textbook to my graduate students as a whole text that I wanted them to read at the beginning of a course, but it has been easy to refer them back to particular topics as the course has continued.

In future iterations of the book, I suggest hyperlinking the Answer Key to the exercises at the end of each chapter and/or listing the Answer Key in the Table of Contents for easy referral.

I found the book's organization to be straightforward and sensible. The Table of Contents offers a helpful snapshot of the scope of the book and the authors write in a direct and clear style, which contributes to an appropriate flow for the text.

I did not note any navigation problems with any links. All charts/images loaded well in my iBook app. The authors did a nice job of pulling relevant content and links in to support their ideas; it provided an easy way to seek more information if I wanted it, without feeling like the text was loaded down with unnecessary information.

I only found a few small typos in the text, with no grammar issues. The book is obviously written by two very detail-oriented librarians. I appreciated the clarity of the text and lack of errors.

The text was not culturally insensitive; a variety of topics across nursing and education were discussed as examples, which yielded a fairly balanced text regarding cultural considerations.

Reviewed by Alicia Rossiter, Assistant Professor, University of South Florida on 3/27/18

I believe the book gives a comprehensive overview on how to complete a literature view at the graduate level. It begins with an overview of the purpose of a literature review and moves through the steps to completing the review process. read more

I believe the book gives a comprehensive overview on how to complete a literature view at the graduate level. It begins with an overview of the purpose of a literature review and moves through the steps to completing the review process.

I believe the book was accurate and unbiased. It was easy to read but comprehensive.

Content within the text is relevant and supports the literature view process. It did discuss the various databases for searches which may need updating to include new sites, search engines but otherwise relevant and useful information.

The text is easy to read, provides appropriate examples, includes a section on putting the process into practice as well as a "test yourself" section to ensure the content is understood.

The text is consistent throughout in regards to terminology, framework, and set up.

The text is easy to read and content is leveled for the reader but not over simplified. Content is chunked into sections making it easy for the reader to digest the content. The chapters are well laid out and flow from chapter to chapter. Each chapter contains learning objectives, content sections, practice section, and test yourself section. Well organized and great visuals.

Topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion that flow from chapter to chapter and build as the reader moves through the process.

The text is free of interface issues. I could not get the videos to play but other visuals were appropriate and useful to support content.

The text contains no grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally offensive. There was no evidence of bias or cultural insensitivity.

I think this would be a great resource for graduate student learning to navigate the literature review process. It is easy to read, straightforward, and guides the individual through the process from start to finish. I will recommend this text to my graduate students in evidence-based practice and research courses as a recommended reference.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: What is a Literature Review?
  • Chapter 3: How to Get Started
  • Chapter 4: Where to Find the Literature
  • Chapter 5: Evaluating Sources
  • Chapter 6: Documenting Sources
  • Chapter 7: Synthesizing Sources
  • Chapter 8: Writing the Literature Review

Ancillary Material

About the book.

Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students is an open textbook designed for students in graduate-level nursing and education programs. Its intent is to recognize the significant role the literature review plays in the research process and to prepare students for the work that goes into writing one. Developed for new graduate students and novice researchers just entering into the work of a chosen discipline, each of the eight chapters covers a component of the literature review process. Students will learn how to form a research question, search existing literature, synthesize results and write the review. The book contains examples, checklists, supplementary materials, and additional resources. Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students is written by two librarians with expertise guiding students through research and writing assignments, and is openly licensed.

About the Contributors

Linda Frederiksen is the Head of Access Services at Washington State University Vancouver.  She has a Master of Library Science degree from Emporia State University in Kansas. Linda is active in local, regional and national organizations, projects and initiatives advancing open educational resources and equitable access to information.

Sue F. Phelps is the Health Sciences and Outreach Services Librarian at Washington State University Vancouver. Her research interests include information literacy, accessibility of learning materials for students who use adaptive technology, diversity and equity in higher education, and evidence based practice in the health sciences

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Learning objectives.

At the conclusion of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose of the literature review in  the research process
  • Distinguish between different types of literature reviews

1.1 What is a Literature Review?

Pick up nearly any book on research methods and you will find a description of a literature review.  At a basic level, the term implies a survey of factual or nonfiction books, articles, and other documents published on a particular subject.  Definitions may be similar across the disciplines, with new types and definitions continuing to emerge.  Generally speaking, a literature review is a:

  • “comprehensive background of the literature within the interested topic area…” ( O’Gorman & MacIntosh, 2015, p. 31 ).
  • “critical component of the research process that provides an in-depth analysis of recently published research findings in specifically identified areas of interest.” ( House, 2018, p. 109 ).
  • “written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study” ( Machi & McEvoy,  2012, p. 4 ).

As a foundation for knowledge advancement in every discipline, it is an important element of any research project.  At the graduate or doctoral level, the literature review is an essential feature of thesis and dissertation, as well as grant proposal writing.  That is to say, “A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research…A researcher cannot perform significant research without first understanding the literature in the field.” ( Boote & Beile, 2005, p. 3 ).  It is by this means, that a researcher demonstrates familiarity with a body of knowledge and thereby establishes credibility with a reader.  An advanced-level literature review shows how prior research is linked to a new project, summarizing and synthesizing what is known while identifying gaps in the knowledge base, facilitating theory development, closing areas where enough research already exists, and uncovering areas where more research is needed. ( Webster & Watson, 2002, p. xiii )

A graduate-level literature review is a compilation of the most significant previously published research on your topic. Unlike an annotated bibliography or a research paper you may have written as an undergraduate, your literature review will outline, evaluate and synthesize relevant research and relate those sources to your own thesis or research question. It is much more than a summary of all the related literature.

It is a type of writing that demonstrate the importance of your research by defining the main ideas and the relationship between them. A good literature review lays the foundation for the importance of your stated problem and research question.

Literature reviews:

  • define a concept
  • map the research terrain or scope
  • systemize relationships between concepts
  • identify gaps in the literature ( Rocco & Plathotnik, 2009, p. 128 )

The purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate that your research question  is meaningful. Additionally, you may review the literature of different disciplines to find deeper meaning and understanding of your topic. It is especially important to consider other disciplines when you do not find much on your topic in one discipline. You will need to search the cognate literature before claiming there is “little previous research” on your topic.

Well developed literature reviews involve numerous steps and activities. The literature review is an iterative process because you will do at least two of them: a preliminary search to learn what has been published in your area and whether there is sufficient support in the literature for moving ahead with your subject. After this first exploration, you will conduct a deeper dive into the literature to learn everything you can about the topic and its related issues.

Literature Review Tutorial

A video titled "Literature Reviews: An overview for graduate students." Video here: Transcript available here:

1.2 Literature Review Basics

An effective literature review must:

  • Methodologically analyze and synthesize quality literature on a topic
  • Provide a firm foundation to a topic or research area
  • Provide a firm foundation for the selection of a research methodology
  • Demonstrate that the proposed research contributes something new to the overall body of knowledge of advances the research field’s knowledge base. ( Levy & Ellis, 2006 ).

All literature reviews, whether they are qualitative, quantitative or both, will at some point:

  • Introduce the topic and define its key terms
  • Establish the importance of the topic
  • Provide an overview of the amount of available literature and its types (for example: theoretical, statistical, speculative)
  • Identify gaps in the literature
  • Point out consistent finding across studies
  • Arrive at a synthesis that organizes what is known about a topic
  • Discusses possible implications and directions for future research

1.3 Types of Literature Reviews

There are many different types of literature reviews, however there are some shared characteristics or features.  Remember a comprehensive literature review is, at its most fundamental level, an original work based on an extensive critical examination and synthesis of the relevant literature on a topic. As a study of the research on a particular topic, it is arranged by key themes or findings, which may lead up to or link to the  research question.  In some cases, the research question will drive the type of literature review that is undertaken.

The following section includes brief descriptions of the terms used to describe different literature review types with examples of each.   The included citations are open access, Creative Commons licensed or copyright-restricted.

1.3.1 Types of Review conceptual.

Guided by an understanding of basic issues rather than a research methodology. You are looking for key factors, concepts or variables and the presumed relationship between them. The goal of the conceptual literature review is to categorize and describe concepts relevant to your study or topic and outline a relationship between them. You will include relevant theory and empirical research.

Examples of a Conceptual Review:

  • Education : The formality of learning science in everyday life: A conceptual literature review. ( Dohn, 2010 ).
  • Education : Are we asking the right questions? A conceptual review of the educational development literature in higher education. ( Amundsen & Wilson, 2012 ).

Figure 1.1 shows a diagram of possible topics and subtopics related to the use of information systems in education. In this example, constructivist theory is a concept that might influence the use of information systems in education. A related but separate concept the researcher might want to explore are the different perspectives of students and teachers regarding the use of information systems in education. Empirical

An empirical literature review collects, creates, arranges, and analyzes numeric data reflecting the frequency of themes, topics, authors and/or methods found in existing literature. Empirical literature reviews present their summaries in quantifiable terms using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Examples of an Empirical Review:

  • Nursing : False-positive findings in Cochrane meta-analyses with and without application of trial sequential analysis: An empirical review. ( Imberger, Thorlund, Gluud, & Wettersley, 2016 ).
  • Education : Impediments of e-learning adoption in higher learning institutions of Tanzania: An empirical review ( Mwakyusa & Mwalyagile, 2016 ). Exploratory

Unlike a synoptic literature review, the purpose here is to provide a broad approach to the topic area. The aim is breadth rather than depth and to get a general feel for the size of the topic area. A graduate student might do an exploratory review of the literature before beginning a synoptic, or more comprehensive one.

Examples of an Exploratory Review:

  • Education : University research management: An exploratory literature review. ( Schuetzenmeister, 2010 ).
  • Education : An exploratory review of design principles in constructivist gaming learning environments. ( Rosario & Widmeyer, 2009 ).

literature review topic nursing Focused

A type of literature review limited to a single aspect of previous research, such as methodology. A focused literature review generally will describe the implications of choosing a particular element of past research, such as methodology in terms of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

Examples of a Focused Review:

  • Nursing : Clinical inertia in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A focused literature review. ( Khunti, Davies, & Khunti, 2015 ).
  • Education : Language awareness: Genre awareness-a focused review of the literature. ( Stainton, 1992 ). Integrative

Critiques past research and draws overall conclusions from the body of literature at a specified point in time. Reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way. Most integrative reviews are intended to address mature topics or  emerging topics. May require the author to adopt a guiding theory, a set of competing models, or a point of view about a topic.  For more description of integrative reviews, see Whittemore & Knafl (2005).

Examples of an Integrative Review:

  • Nursing : Interprofessional teamwork and collaboration between community health workers and healthcare teams: An integrative review. ( Franklin,  Bernhardt, Lopez, Long-Middleton, & Davis, 2015 ).
  • Education : Exploring the gap between teacher certification and permanent employment in Ontario: An integrative literature review. ( Brock & Ryan, 2016 ). Meta-analysis

A subset of a  systematic review, that takes findings from several studies on the same subject and analyzes them using standardized statistical procedures to pool together data. Integrates findings from a large body of quantitative findings to enhance understanding, draw conclusions, and detect patterns and relationships. Gather data from many different, independent studies that look at the same research question and assess similar outcome measures. Data is combined and re-analyzed, providing a greater statistical power than any single study alone. It’s important to note that not every systematic review includes a meta-analysis but a meta-analysis can’t exist without a systematic review of the literature.

Examples of a Meta-Analysis:

  • Education : Efficacy of the cooperative learning method on mathematics achievement and attitude: A meta-analysis research. ( Capar & Tarim, 2015 ).
  • Nursing : A meta-analysis of the effects of non-traditional teaching methods on the critical thinking abilities of nursing students. ( Lee, Lee, Gong, Bae, & Choi, 2016 ).
  • Education : Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: A meta-analysis of the literature from 1970 to 1991. ( Weinburgh, 1995 ). Narrative/Traditional

An overview of research on a particular topic that critiques and summarizes a body of literature. Typically broad in focus. Relevant past research is selected and synthesized into a coherent discussion. Methodologies, findings and limits of the existing body of knowledge are discussed in narrative form. Sometimes also referred to as a traditional literature review. Requires a sufficiently focused research question. The process may be subject to bias that supports the researcher’s own work.

Examples of a Narrative/Traditional Review:

  • Nursing : Family carers providing support to a person dying in the home setting: A narrative literature review. ( Morris, King, Turner, & Payne, 2015 ).
  • Education : Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that make a lasting difference. ( Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards, 1997 ).
  • Education : Good quality discussion is necessary but not sufficient in asynchronous tuition: A brief narrative review of the literature. ( Fear & Erikson-Brown, 2014 ).
  • Nursing : Outcomes of physician job satisfaction: A narrative review, implications, and directions for future research. ( Williams & Skinner, 2003 ). Realist

Aspecific type of literature review that is theory-driven and interpretative and is intended to explain the outcomes of a complex intervention program(s).

Examples of a Realist Review:

  • Nursing : Lean thinking in healthcare: A realist review of the literature. ( Mazzacato, Savage, Brommels, 2010 ).
  • Education : Unravelling quality culture in higher education: A realist review. ( Bendermacher, Egbrink, Wolfhagen, & Dolmans, 2017 ). Scoping

Tend to be non-systematic and focus on breadth of coverage conducted on a topic rather than depth. Utilize a wide range of materials; may not evaluate the quality of the studies as much as count the number. One means of understanding existing literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research; preliminary assessment of size and scope of available research on topic. May include research in progress.

Examples of a Scoping Review:

  • Nursing : Organizational interventions improving access to community-based primary health care for vulnerable populations: A scoping review. ( Khanassov, Pluye, Descoteaux, Haggerty,  Russell, Gunn, & Levesque, 2016 ).
  • Education : Interdisciplinary doctoral research supervision: A scoping review. ( Vanstone, Hibbert, Kinsella, McKenzie, Pitman, & Lingard, 2013 ).
  • Nursing : A scoping review of the literature on the abolition of user fees in health care services in Africa. ( Ridde, & Morestin, 2011 ). Synoptic

Unlike an exploratory review, the purpose is to provide a concise but accurate overview of all material that appears to be relevant to a chosen topic. Both content and methodological material is included. The review should aim to be both descriptive and evaluative. Summarizes previous studies while also showing how the body of literature could be extended and improved in terms of content and method by identifying gaps.

Examples of a Synoptic Review:

  • Education : Theoretical framework for educational assessment: A synoptic review. ( Ghaicha, 2016 ).
  • Education : School effects research: A synoptic review of past efforts and some suggestions for the future. ( Cuttance, 1981 ). Systematic Review

A rigorous review that follows a strict methodology designed with a presupposed selection of literature reviewed.  Undertaken to clarify the state of existing research, the evidence, and possible implications that can be drawn from that.  Using comprehensive and exhaustive searching of the published and unpublished literature, searching various databases, reports, and grey literature.  Transparent and reproducible in reporting details of time frame, search and methods to minimize bias.  Must include a team of at least 2-3 and includes the critical appraisal of the literature.  For more description of systematic reviews, including links to protocols, checklists, workflow processes, and structure see “ A Young Researcher’s Guide to a Systematic Review “.

Examples of a Systematic Review:

  • Education : The potentials of using cloud computing in schools: A systematic literature review ( Hartmann, Braae, Pedersen, & Khalid, 2017 )
  • Nursing : Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality. ( Pimpin, Wu, Haskelberg, Del Gobbo, & Mozaffarian, 2016 ).
  • Education : The use of research to improve professional practice: a systematic review of the literature. ( Hemsley-Brown & Sharp, 2003 ).
  • Nursing : Using computers to self-manage type 2 diabetes. ( Pal, Eastwood, Michie, Farmer, Barnard, Peacock, Wood, Inniss, & Murray, 2013 ). Umbrella/Overview of Reviews

Compiles evidence from multiple systematic reviews into one document. Focuses on broad condition or problem for which there are competing interventions and highlights reviews that address those interventions and their effects. Often used in recommendations for practice.

Examples of an Umbrella/Overview Review:

  • Education : Reflective practice in healthcare education: An umbrella review. ( Fragknos, 2016 ).
  • Nursing : Systematic reviews of psychosocial interventions for autism: an umbrella review. ( Seida, Ospina, Karkhaneh, Hartling, Smith, & Clark, 2009 ).

For a brief discussion see “ Not all literature reviews are the same ” (Thomson, 2013).

1.4 Why do a Literature Review?

The purpose of the literature review is the same regardless of the topic or research method. It tests your own research question against what is already known about the subject.

1.4.1 First – It’s part of the whole. Omission of a literature review chapter or section in a graduate-level project represents a serious void or absence of critical element in the research process.

The outcome of your review is expected to demonstrate that you:

  • can systematically explore the research in your topic area
  • can read and critically analyze the literature in your discipline and then use it appropriately to advance your own work
  • have sufficient knowledge in the topic to undertake further investigation

1.4.2 Second – It’s good for you!

  • You improve your skills as a researcher
  • You become familiar with the discourse of your discipline and learn how to be a scholar in your field
  • You learn through writing your ideas and finding your voice in your subject area
  • You define, redefine and clarify your research question for yourself in the process

1.4.3 Third – It’s good for your reader. Your reader expects you to have done the hard work of gathering, evaluating and synthesizes the literature.  When you do a literature review you:

  • Set the context for the topic and present its significance
  • Identify what’s important to know about your topic – including individual material, prior research, publications, organizations and authors.
  • Demonstrate relationships among prior research
  • Establish limitations of existing knowledge
  • Analyze trends in the topic’s treatment and gaps in the literature

1.4.4 Why do a literature review?

  • To locate gaps in the literature of your discipline
  • To avoid reinventing the wheel
  • To carry on where others have already been
  • To identify other people working in the same field
  • To increase your breadth of knowledge in your subject area
  • To find the seminal works in your field
  • To provide intellectual context for your own work
  • To acknowledge opposing viewpoints
  • To put your work in perspective
  • To demonstrate you can discover and retrieve previous work in the area

1.5 Common Literature Review Errors

Graduate-level literature reviews are more than a summary of the publications you find on a topic.  As you have seen in this brief introduction, literature reviews are a very specific type of research, analysis, and writing.  We will explore these topics more in the next chapters.  Some things to keep in mind as you begin your own research and writing are ways to avoid the most common errors seen in the first attempt at a literature review.  For a quick review of some of the pitfalls and challenges a new researcher faces when he/she begins work, see “ Get Ready: Academic Writing, General Pitfalls and (oh yes) Getting Started! ”.

As you begin your own graduate-level literature review, try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Accepts another researcher’s finding as valid without evaluating methodology and data
  • Contrary findings and alternative interpretations are not considered or mentioned
  • Findings are not clearly related to one’s own study, or findings are too general
  • Insufficient time allowed to define best search strategies and writing
  • Isolated statistical results are simply reported rather than synthesizing the results
  • Problems with selecting and using most relevant keywords, subject headings and descriptors
  • Relies too heavily on secondary sources
  • Search methods are not recorded or reported for transparency
  • Summarizes rather than synthesizes articles

In conclusion, the purpose of a literature review is three-fold:

  • to survey the current state of knowledge or evidence in the area of inquiry,
  • to identify key authors, articles, theories, and findings in that area, and
  • to identify gaps in knowledge in that research area.

A literature review is commonly done today using computerized keyword searches in online databases, often working with a trained librarian or information expert. Keywords can be combined using the Boolean operators, “and”, “or” and sometimes “not”  to narrow down or expand the search results. Once a list of articles is generated from the keyword and subject heading search, the researcher must then manually browse through each title and abstract, to determine the suitability of that article before a full-text article is obtained for the research question.

Literature reviews should be reasonably complete, and not restricted to a few journals, a few years, or a specific methodology or research design. Reviewed articles may be summarized in the form of tables, and can be further structured using organizing frameworks such as a concept matrix.

A well-conducted literature review should indicate whether the initial research questions have already been addressed in the literature, whether there are newer or more interesting research questions available, and whether the original research questions should be modified or changed in light of findings of the literature review.

The review can also provide some intuitions or potential answers to the questions of interest and/or help identify theories that have previously been used to address similar questions and may provide evidence to inform policy or decision-making. ( Bhattacherjee, 2012 ).

literature review topic nursing

Read Abstract 1.  Refer to Types of Literature Reviews.  What type of literature review do you think this study is and why?  See the Answer Key for the correct response.

Nursing : To describe evidence of international literature on the safe care of the hospitalised child after the World Alliance for Patient Safety and list contributions of the general theoretical framework of patient safety for paediatric nursing.

An integrative literature review between 2004 and 2015 using the databases PubMed, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus, Web of Science and Wiley Online Library, and the descriptors Safety or Patient safety, Hospitalised child, Paediatric nursing, and Nursing care.

Thirty-two articles were analysed, most of which were from North American, with a descriptive approach. The quality of the recorded information in the medical records, the use of checklists, and the training of health workers contribute to safe care in paediatric nursing and improve the medication process and partnerships with parents.

General information available on patient safety should be incorporated in paediatric nursing care. ( Wegner, Silva, Peres, Bandeira, Frantz, Botene, & Predebon, 2017 ).

Read Abstract 2.  Refer to Types of Literature Reviews.  What type of lit review do you think this study is and why?  See the Answer Key for the correct response.

Education : The focus of this paper centers around timing associated with early childhood education programs and interventions using meta-analytic methods. At any given assessment age, a child’s current age equals starting age, plus duration of program, plus years since program ended. Variability in assessment ages across the studies should enable everyone to identify the separate effects of all three time-related components. The project is a meta-analysis of evaluation studies of early childhood education programs conducted in the United States and its territories between 1960 and 2007. The population of interest is children enrolled in early childhood education programs between the ages of 0 and 5 and their control-group counterparts. Since the data come from a meta-analysis, the population for this study is drawn from many different studies with diverse samples. Given the preliminary nature of their analysis, the authors cannot offer conclusions at this point. ( Duncan, Leak, Li, Magnuson, Schindler, & Yoshikawa, 2011 ).

Test Yourself

See Answer Key for the correct responses.

The purpose of a graduate-level literature review is to summarize in as many words as possible everything that is known about my topic.

A literature review is significant because in the process of doing one, the researcher learns to read and critically assess the literature of a discipline and then uses it appropriately to advance his/her own research.

Read the following abstract and choose the correct type of literature review it represents.

Nursing: E-cigarette use has become increasingly popular, especially among the young. Its long-term influence upon health is unknown. Aim of this review has been to present the current state of knowledge about the impact of e-cigarette use on health, with an emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe. During the preparation of this narrative review, the literature on e-cigarettes available within the network PubMed was retrieved and examined. In the final review, 64 research papers were included. We specifically assessed the construction and operation of the e-cigarette as well as the chemical composition of the e-liquid; the impact that vapor arising from the use of e-cigarette explored in experimental models in vitro; and short-term effects of use of e-cigarettes on users’ health. Among the substances inhaled by the e-smoker, there are several harmful products, such as: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acroleine, propanal, nicotine, acetone, o-methyl-benzaldehyde, carcinogenic nitrosamines. Results from experimental animal studies indicate the negative impact of e-cigarette exposure on test models, such as ascytotoxicity, oxidative stress, inflammation, airway hyper reactivity, airway remodeling, mucin production, apoptosis, and emphysematous changes. The short-term impact of e-cigarettes on human health has been studied mostly in experimental setting. Available evidence shows that the use of e-cigarettes may result in acute lung function responses (e.g., increase in impedance, peripheral airway flow resistance) and induce oxidative stress. Based on the current available evidence, e-cigarette use is associated with harmful biologic responses, although it may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. (J ankowski, Brożek, Lawson, Skoczyński, & Zejda, 2017 ).

  • Meta-analysis
  • Exploratory

Education: In this review, Mary Vorsino writes that she is interested in keeping the potential influences of women pragmatists of Dewey’s day in mind while presenting modern feminist re readings of Dewey. She wishes to construct a narrowly-focused and succinct literature review of thinkers who have donned a feminist lens to analyze Dewey’s approaches to education, learning, and democracy and to employ Dewey’s works in theorizing on gender and education and on gender in society. This article first explores Dewey as both an ally and a problematic figure in feminist literature and then investigates the broader sphere of feminist pragmatism and two central themes within it: (1) valuing diversity, and diverse experiences; and (2) problematizing fixed truths. ( Vorsino, 2015 ).

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Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students Copyright © by Linda Frederiksen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Library Guides

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Nursing and Midwifery

  • Accessing NHS resources
  • Journals, Databases and Critical Thinking

What is a literature review?

Choosing a topic, developing your search strategy, carrying out your search, saving and documenting your search, formulating a research question, critical appraisal tools.

  • Go to LibrarySearch This link opens in a new window

So you have been asked to complete a literature review, but what is a literature review?

A literature review is a piece of research which aims to address a specific research question. It is a comprehensive summary and analysis of existing literature. The literature itself should be the main topic of discussion in your review. You want the results and themes to speak for themselves to avoid any bias.

The first step is to decide on a topic. Here are some elements to consider when deciding upon a topic:

  • Choose a topic which you are interested in, you will be looking at a lot of research surrounding that area so you want to ensure it is something that interests you. 
  • Draw on your own experiences, think about your placement or your workplace.
  • Think about why the topic is worth investigating.  

Once you have decided on a topic, it is a good practice to carry out an initial scoping search.

This requires you to do a quick search using  LibrarySearch  or  Google Scholar  to ensure that there is research on your topic. This is a preliminary step to your search to check what literature is available before deciding on your question. 

literature review topic nursing

The research question framework elements can also be used as keywords.

Keywords - spellings, acronyms, abbreviations, synonyms, specialist language

  • Think about who the population/ sample group. Are you looking for a particular age group, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, health issue etc.
  • What is the intervention/issue you want to know more about? This could be a particular type of medication, education, therapeutic technique etc. 
  • Do you have a particular context in mind? This could relate to a community setting, hospital, ward etc. 

It is important to remember that databases will only ever search for the exact term you put in, so don't panic if you are not getting the results you hoped for. Think about alternative words that could be used for each keyword to build upon your search. 

Build your search by thinking about about synonyms, specialist language, spellings, acronyms, abbreviations for each keyword that you have.

Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Your inclusion and exclusion criteria is also an important step in the literature review process. It allows you to be transparent in how you have  ended up with your final articles. 

Your inclusion/exclusion criteria is completely dependent on your chosen topic. Use your inclusion and exclusion criteria to select your articles, it is important not to cherry pick but to have a reason as to why you have selected that particular article. 

literature review topic nursing

  • Search Planning Template Use this template to plan your search strategy.

Once you have thought about your keywords and alternative keywords, it is time to think about how to combine them to form your search strategy. Boolean operators instruct the database how your terms should interact with one another. 

Boolean Operators

  • OR can be used to combine your keywords and alternative terms. For example "Social Media OR Twitter". When using OR we are informing the database to bring articles continuing either of those terms as they are both relevant so we don't mind which appears in our article. 
  • AND can be used to combine two or more concepts. For example "Social Media AND Anxiety". When using AND we are informing the database that we need both of the terms in our article in order for it to be relevant.
  • Truncation can be used when there are multiple possible word endings. For example Nurs* will find Nurse, Nurses and Nursing. 
  • Double quotation marks can be used to allow for phrase searching. This means that if you have two or more words that belong together as a phrase the database will search for that exact phrase rather than words separately.  For example "Social Media"

Don't forget the more ORs you use the broader your search becomes, the more ANDs you use the narrower your search becomes. 

One of the databases you will be using is EBSCOHost Research Databases. This is a platform which searches through multiple databases so allows for a comprehensive search. The short video below covers how to access and use EBSCO. 

A reference management software will save you a lot of time especially when you are looking at lots of different articles. 

We provide support for EndNote and Mendeley. The video below covers how to install and use Mendeley. 

Consider using a research question framework. A framework will ensure that your question is specific and answerable.

There are different frameworks available depending on what type of research you are interested in.

Population - Who is the question focussed on? This could relate to staff, patients, an age group, an ethnicity etc.

Intervention - What is the question focussed on? This could be a certain type of medication, therapeutic technique etc. 

Comparison/Context - This may be with our without the intervention or it may be concerned with the context for example where is the setting of your question? The hospital, ward, community etc?

Outcome - What do you hope to accomplish or improve etc.

Sample - as this is qualitative research sample is preferred over patient so that it is not generalised. 

Phenomenon of Interest - reasons for behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and decisions.

Design - the form of research used. 

Evaluation - the outcomes.

Research type -qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods.  

All frameworks help you to be specific, but don't worry if your question doesn't fit exactly into a framework. 

There are many critical appraisal tools or books you can use to assess the credibility of a research paper but these are a few we would recommend in the library. Your tutor may be able to advise you of others or some that are more suitable for your topic.

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)

CASP is a well-known critical appraisal website that has checklists for a wide variety of study types. You will see it frequently used by practitioners.

Understanding Health Research

This is a brand-new, interactive resource that guides you through appraising a research paper, highlighting key areas you should consider when appraising evidence.

Greenhalgh, T. (2014) How to read a paper: The basics of evidence-based medicine . 5 th edn. Chichester: Wiley

Greenhalgh’s book is a classic in critical appraisal. Whilst you don’t need to read this book cover-to-cover, it can be useful to refer to its specific chapters on how to assess different types of research papers. We have copies available in the library!

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Reviews of Literature in Nursing Research: Methodological Considerations and Defining Characteristics


  • 1 School of Nursing, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (Ms Silva and Drs Woo, Galica, Wilson, and Luctkar-Flude); School of Nursing, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Santa Catarina, Brazil (Dr Padilha and Ms Petry); and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Dr Silva E Silva).
  • PMID: 35213877
  • DOI: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000418

Despite the availability of guidelines about the different types of review literature, the identification of the best approach is not always clear for nursing researchers. Therefore, in this article, we provide a comprehensive guide to be used by health care and nursing scholars while choosing among 4 popular types of reviews (narrative, integrative, scoping, and systematic review), including a descriptive discussion, critical analysis, and decision map tree. Although some review methodologies are more rigorous, it would be inaccurate to say that one is preferable over the others. Instead, each methodology is adequate for a certain type of investigation, nursing methodology research, and research paradigm.

Copyright © 2022 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Nursing Research*
  • Research Design
  • Research Personnel
  • Review Literature as Topic*

Best Nursing Research Topics for Students

What is a nursing research paper.

  • What They Include
  • Choosing a Topic
  • Best Nursing Research Topics
  • Research Paper Writing Tips

Best Nursing Research Topics for Students

Writing a research paper is a massive task that involves careful organization, critical analysis, and a lot of time. Some nursing students are natural writers, while others struggle to select a nursing research topic, let alone write about it.

If you're a nursing student who dreads writing research papers, this article may help ease your anxiety. We'll cover everything you need to know about writing nursing school research papers and the top topics for nursing research.  

Continue reading to make your paper-writing jitters a thing of the past.

A nursing research paper is a work of academic writing composed by a nurse or nursing student. The paper may present information on a specific topic or answer a question.

During LPN/LVN and RN programs, most papers you write focus on learning to use research databases, evaluate appropriate resources, and format your writing with APA style. You'll then synthesize your research information to answer a question or analyze a topic.

BSN , MSN , Ph.D., and DNP programs also write nursing research papers. Students in these programs may also participate in conducting original research studies.

Writing papers during your academic program improves and develops many skills, including the ability to:

  • Select nursing topics for research
  • Conduct effective research
  • Analyze published academic literature
  • Format and cite sources
  • Synthesize data
  • Organize and articulate findings

About Nursing Research Papers

When do nursing students write research papers.

You may need to write a research paper for any of the nursing courses you take. Research papers help develop critical thinking and communication skills. They allow you to learn how to conduct research and critically review publications.

That said, not every class will require in-depth, 10-20-page papers. The more advanced your degree path, the more you can expect to write and conduct research. If you're in an associate or bachelor's program, you'll probably write a few papers each semester or term.

Do Nursing Students Conduct Original Research?

Most of the time, you won't be designing, conducting, and evaluating new research. Instead, your projects will focus on learning the research process and the scientific method. You'll achieve these objectives by evaluating existing nursing literature and sources and defending a thesis.

However, many nursing faculty members do conduct original research. So, you may get opportunities to participate in, and publish, research articles.

Example Research Project Scenario:

In your maternal child nursing class, the professor assigns the class a research paper regarding developmentally appropriate nursing interventions for the pediatric population. While that may sound specific, you have almost endless opportunities to narrow down the focus of your writing. 

You could choose pain intervention measures in toddlers. Conversely, you can research the effects of prolonged hospitalization on adolescents' social-emotional development.

What Does a Nursing Research Paper Include?

Your professor should provide a thorough guideline of the scope of the paper. In general, an undergraduate nursing research paper will consist of:

Introduction : A brief overview of the research question/thesis statement your paper will discuss. You can include why the topic is relevant.

Body : This section presents your research findings and allows you to synthesize the information and data you collected. You'll have a chance to articulate your evaluation and answer your research question. The length of this section depends on your assignment.

Conclusion : A brief review of the information and analysis you presented throughout the body of the paper. This section is a recap of your paper and another chance to reassert your thesis.

The best advice is to follow your instructor's rubric and guidelines. Remember to ask for help whenever needed, and avoid overcomplicating the assignment!

How to Choose a Nursing Research Topic

The sheer volume of prospective nursing research topics can become overwhelming for students. Additionally, you may get the misconception that all the 'good' research ideas are exhausted. However, a personal approach may help you narrow down a research topic and find a unique angle.

Writing your research paper about a topic you value or connect with makes the task easier. Additionally, you should consider the material's breadth. Topics with plenty of existing literature will make developing a research question and thesis smoother.

Finally, feel free to shift gears if necessary, especially if you're still early in the research process. If you start down one path and have trouble finding published information, ask your professor if you can choose another topic.

The Best Research Topics for Nursing Students

You have endless subject choices for nursing research papers. This non-exhaustive list just scratches the surface of some of the best nursing research topics.

1. Clinical Nursing Research Topics

  • Analyze the use of telehealth/virtual nursing to reduce inpatient nurse duties.
  • Discuss the impact of evidence-based respiratory interventions on patient outcomes in critical care settings.
  • Explore the effectiveness of pain management protocols in pediatric patients.

2. Community Health Nursing Research Topics

  • Assess the impact of nurse-led diabetes education in Type II Diabetics.
  • Analyze the relationship between socioeconomic status and access to healthcare services.

3. Nurse Education Research Topics

  • Review the effectiveness of simulation-based learning to improve nursing students' clinical skills.
  • Identify methods that best prepare pre-licensure students for clinical practice.
  • Investigate factors that influence nurses to pursue advanced degrees.
  • Evaluate education methods that enhance cultural competence among nurses.
  • Describe the role of mindfulness interventions in reducing stress and burnout among nurses.

4. Mental Health Nursing Research Topics

  • Explore patient outcomes related to nurse staffing levels in acute behavioral health settings.
  • Assess the effectiveness of mental health education among emergency room nurses .
  • Explore de-escalation techniques that result in improved patient outcomes.
  • Review the effectiveness of therapeutic communication in improving patient outcomes.

5. Pediatric Nursing Research Topics

  • Assess the impact of parental involvement in pediatric asthma treatment adherence.
  • Explore challenges related to chronic illness management in pediatric patients.
  • Review the role of play therapy and other therapeutic interventions that alleviate anxiety among hospitalized children.

6. The Nursing Profession Research Topics

  • Analyze the effects of short staffing on nurse burnout .
  • Evaluate factors that facilitate resiliency among nursing professionals.
  • Examine predictors of nurse dissatisfaction and burnout.
  • Posit how nursing theories influence modern nursing practice.

Tips for Writing a Nursing Research Paper

The best nursing research advice we can provide is to follow your professor's rubric and instructions. However, here are a few study tips for nursing students to make paper writing less painful:

Avoid procrastination: Everyone says it, but few follow this advice. You can significantly lower your stress levels if you avoid procrastinating and start working on your project immediately.

Plan Ahead: Break down the writing process into smaller sections, especially if it seems overwhelming. Give yourself time for each step in the process.

Research: Use your resources and ask for help from the librarian or instructor. The rest should come together quickly once you find high-quality studies to analyze.

Outline: Create an outline to help you organize your thoughts. Then, you can plug in information throughout the research process. 

Clear Language: Use plain language as much as possible to get your point across. Jargon is inevitable when writing academic nursing papers, but keep it to a minimum.

Cite Properly: Accurately cite all sources using the appropriate citation style. Nursing research papers will almost always implement APA style. Check out the resources below for some excellent reference management options.

Revise and Edit: Once you finish your first draft, put it away for one to two hours or, preferably, a whole day. Once you've placed some space between you and your paper, read through and edit for clarity, coherence, and grammatical errors. Reading your essay out loud is an excellent way to check for the 'flow' of the paper.

Helpful Nursing Research Writing Resources:

Purdue OWL (Online writing lab) has a robust APA guide covering everything you need about APA style and rules.

Grammarly helps you edit grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Upgrading to a paid plan will get you plagiarism detection, formatting, and engagement suggestions. This tool is excellent to help you simplify complicated sentences.

Mendeley is a free reference management software. It stores, organizes, and cites references. It has a Microsoft plug-in that inserts and correctly formats APA citations.

Don't let nursing research papers scare you away from starting nursing school or furthering your education. Their purpose is to develop skills you'll need to be an effective nurse: critical thinking, communication, and the ability to review published information critically.

Choose a great topic and follow your teacher's instructions; you'll finish that paper in no time.

Joleen Sams

Joleen Sams is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner based in the Kansas City metro area. During her 10-year RN career, Joleen worked in NICU, inpatient pediatrics, and regulatory compliance. Since graduating with her MSN-FNP in 2019, she has worked in urgent care and nursing administration. Connect with Joleen on LinkedIn or see more of her writing on her website.

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100+ Current Nursing literature review topics + Examples to Write About

  • Bob Johnson
  • August 18, 2023
  • Advanced Nursing Informatics , Advanced Pharmacology , capstone project , Nurse Practitioner , Nursing Care Plan , Nursing Leadership and Management , Nursing Topics and Ideas , PICOT Paper Examples , Samples for MSN students

Nursing literature review is an important part of the nursing profession. It allows nurses to learn from the best studies and research on a particular topic. In this article, we will provide you with 100 good nursing literature review topics that you can use to help you write your nursing literature review.

Current Nursing literature review topics to Write About – topics for literature review in nursing

Nursing literature review is an essential component of any nursing program. Nurses need to have a comprehensive understanding of the latest nursing research in order to provide optimal care for their patients .

Here are current nursing literature review topics that you can explore:

  • The Role of Nursing Research in Clinical Practice
  • Enhancing Patient Outcomes through Nursing Research
  • Applications of evidence-based Practice in Nursing
  • The Relationship between Nursing Theory and Practice
  • Issues in Implementation and Translation of Research Evidence into Clinical Practice
  • Cultural Competence in Nursing: Perspectives from the Global South
  • Nursing Perspective on Genetics and Genetics in Nursing
  • Advances in Geriatric Nursing: From Theory to Practice
  • Transforming Pediatric Nursing Care through EvidenceBased Practice
  • Health Technology Assessment: A Critical Appraisal from a Nursing Perspective
  • Promoting Collaborative Care through Effective Communication Practices within the Health System
  • Nurses, Technology, and Innovation: Implications for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
  • Nursing Ethics: A Multidisciplinary Perspective
  • Nursing in an Era of Health Care Reform
  • The Role of Nursing Research in Evaluating Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Research and Quality Improvement: Strategies for conducting systematic reviews
  • Collaborative Care in Nursing: Theory, Research, and Practice
  • The Impact of Nursing on Patient Safety
  • The Role of Nursing Ethics in Patient Safety
  • Nursing Informatics: A Critical Appraisal
  • What Nurses Should Know About the National Minimum Data Set (NMDS)
  • Assessing Electronic Health Records: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Nursing in the Era of the Affordable Care Act
  • The Influence of Nursing on Patient Outcomes
  • The Effects of Culture on Nursing Practice
  • Nursing in a Time of Economic Turmoil
  • Challenges Facing Nursing Education in the Context of Healthcare Reform
  • The Use of Technology by Nurses in the Delivery of Nursing Care
  • Creating an Effective Learning Environment for Nursing Students

Here’s How to write a Strong Literature Review for Nursing | Guide, Outlines & Examples

Our  writing service  can help you get the task done quickly and efficiently, so you can focus on more important things. We have years of experience in the field, so we know how to write a perfect literature review.

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20 Mental health nursing literature review topics

  • Introduction to mental health nursing literature review: This literature review will introduce the reader to the field of mental health nursing and provide an overview of 20 different mental health nursing literature review topics.
  • Psychiatric assessment: This literature review will focus on the psychiatric assessment process, including topics such as history taking and diagnostic procedures.
  • Assessing for suicide risk: This literature review will discuss methods for assessing for suicide risk in patients, including coding criteria and risk assessment tools.
  • Cultural competency in mental health nursing: This literature review will explore ways to be culturally competent when providing care to patients with mental illness, such as understanding cultural norms and beliefs.
  • Therapeutic interventions for depression: This literature review will focus on therapeutic interventions for treating depression, such as pharmacological and psychological treatments.
  • Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders: This literature review will discuss psychotherapy options for treating anxiety disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and group therapies.
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation interventions for addiction: This literature review will focus on psychosocial rehabilitation interventions designed to help patients recovering from addiction. Topics covered include relapse prevention and counseling techniques.
  • Care of childrenand adolescents with mental health issues: This literature review will discuss the care of children and adolescents with mental health issues, including pediatric mental health disorders and psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents.
  • Care of older adults with mental illness: This literature review will focus on the care of older adults with mental illness, including interventions for dementia-related psychosis and falls prevention.
  • Complementary and alternative medicine in mental health nursing: This literature review will explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies used to treat mental illness, such as acupuncture and meditation.
  • Ethics in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss ethical considerations in providing care to patients with mental illness, such as cross-cultural competency and ensuring patient safety.
  • Mental health literacy: This literature review will focus on how to improve mental health literacy among nurses, including teaching strategies and clinical applications.
  • Research methods in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss research methods used in the study of mental health Nursing, including qualitative methods and quantitative methods.
  • The role of nursing research in advancing mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss the role of nursing research in advancing the field of mentalhealth nursing, including the importance of randomized controlled trials.
  • The role of advocacy in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss the role of advocacy in mental health nursing, including advocacy for better access to mental health care and insurance coverage for mental health services.
  • Patient safety in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss patient safety issues in mental health nursing , including safe practices for handling psychiatric medications and preventing falls in elderly patients with dementia.
  • The role of social work in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss the role of social work in mental health nursing, including providing support to patients and their families.
  • Geriatric psychiatry: This literature review will focus on the impact of aging on the brain and psychiatric disorders, including geriatric bipolar disorder and dementia-related psychosis.
  • Rehabilitation interventions for people with mental illness: This literature review will focus on rehabilitation interventions designed to help people with mental illness recover from their illnesses. Topics covered include cognitive-behavioral therapy and peer support groups.
  • Future research in mental health nursing: This literature review will discuss future research directions in mental health nursing, including innovative treatments and new approaches to understanding psychiatric disorders.

Here’s the process of Evaluating sources for a nursing literature review | Guide

List of 7 Nursing Literature Review Examples

  • Here’s a  sample Capstone project
  • Make use of this  Nursing Literature Review Sample | Benchmark – Part B: Literature Review
  • More resources for your study  Capstone Literature Review
  • Here’s the best  Capstone Project Literature Review – Solved Example
  • Working with a PICOT question, here’s a  Literature Review For The PICOT Question – Solved Essay
  • Make use of this  Grand Canyon Literature Review PICOT Statement Paper
  • Taking MSN, here’s a sample nursing literature review example that you should read  Literature Review: The Use Of Clinical Systems To Improve Outcomes And Efficiencies

40 Ideas for nursing literature review topics

Nursing literature review is an important practice that nurses use to learn about new concepts and research studies. It can also be used to evaluate the quality of nursing care.

Here are forty ideas for nursing literature review topics:

  • Nursing care of patients with dementia
  • Effect of bed rest on nurses’ health
  • Use of complementary and alternative medicine in nursing care
  • Impact of technology on nurses’ work
  • Role of nurses in disaster preparedness
  • Effectiveness of patient safety programs
  • Assessment and management of chronic diseases in the elderly
  • Developing culturally competent nursing care plans
  • Care of hospitalized pediatric patients
  • Nursing interventions for preventing falls in the elderly
  • Effectiveness of home health services for persons with disabilities
  • Strategies to improve communication between nurses and patients with dementia
  • Health promotion in hospitals: an evidence-based approach
  • Nursing care for critically ill patients
  • Promoting safe sleep for children
  • A qualitative exploration into transitional learning experiences in nursing
  • The intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender with nursing
  • Ethics education for nurses
  • Nurses’ experience working with migrant patients
  • The impact of social media on nurses’ work
  • Nurses’ perceptions of work stress and burnout
  • Nursing management of chronic pain in adults
  • Implementation and evaluation of nurse-led interventions for promoting oral health in older adults
  • The role of nurses in the transition to palliative care
  • Assessment and management of postoperative pain in adults
  • Effects of sleep deprivation on nurses’ performance
  • Nurse-led interventions for preventing falls in the elderly: a systematic review
  • Nursing care in intensive care units: an overview
  • Psychiatric nursing: an introduction
  • Impact of burnout on nurses’ quality of life
  • Nursing research: a critical perspective
  • The influence of culture on maternal nursing
  • Assessment and management of chronic diseases in children
  • Caregiving trajectories among migrant mothers in Canada
  • Development and evaluation of an evidence-based electronic health record for pediatric patients with chronic conditions (CHILD-EHR)
  • Research methods for studying nursing practices: a qualitative exploration
  • Cultural competency among hospital workers: implications for patient safety
  • Nursing interventions for managing postoperative pain
  • The role of nurses in disaster preparedness
  • A qualitative exploration of the experience of work-life balance in nurses

Pediatric nursing literature review topics

There are many nursing literature review topics that could be covered when studying pediatric nursing. A few possible topics include:

  • Acute care of the pediatric patient
  • Assessment and diagnosis of pediatric patients
  • Vital signs in pediatric patients
  • Nutrition in the pediatric patient
  • Pharmacology in the pediatric patient
  • Palliative care of the pediatric patient
  • Sleep patterns in the pediatric patient
  • Infectious diseases of the pediatric population
  • Child abuse and neglect in the pediatric population
  • Medications and their effects in pediatrics

Nursing dissertation topics literature review

Nursing dissertation topics can be incredibly diverse, and there are many different ways to approach them. Below is a list of thirty possible topics that could be used as a starting point for your literature review. This is by no means an exhaustive list – you may want to explore additional topics that you feel would be relevant to your project.

  • Care of the Elderly
  • Care of Patients with Chronic Conditions
  • Care of Pregnant Women
  • Developmental Nursing
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Healthcare Ethics
  • Healthcare Leadership and Management
  • Industrial/Organizational Nursing
  • Neonatal/Pediatric Nursing
  • Patient Safety and Welfare
  • Primary Health care nursing
  • Public Health nursing
  • Women’s health nursing
  • Youth health nursing
  • Nursing Research Methods
  • Nursing Care of Children with Special Health Needs
  • Nursing Care of Patients with Developmental Disabilities
  • Nursing Care of the Elderly with Memory Loss
  • Nursing Research on Pediatric Populations
  • Nursing Research on Chronic Illness
  • Nursing Care of the Obese Patient
  • Nursing Research on Palliative Care
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Nurse Midwives
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurses in Critical Care Settings
  • Nurses in Psychiatric Settings
  • Nurses in Geriatric Settings
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
  • Collaborative Practice

Nursing literature review is an important part of the nursing profession. It allows nurses to learn from the best studies and research on a particular topic. In this article, we will provide you with 100 good nursing literature review topics that you can use to help you write your nursing literature review.

Other Nursing Dissertation Topic Areas include

  • The impact of technology on nursing
  • Global health nursing
  • Nursing care in the aged population
  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Nursing research methods Nursing care of developmental disabilities
  • Nursing research with multicultural populations
  • Palliative care in nursing
  • Nursing leadership
  • Nursing care of hospitalized patients
  • Nursing research on pediatric populations
  • Nursing care of patients with chronic conditions
  • Nursing care for pediatric cancer patients
  • Nursing research on chronic illness
  • Nursing care of the obese patient
  • Nursing research on geriatric populations
  • Nursing care of the medically ill patient
  • Nursing care of the chronically ill patient
  • Nursing care of the postoperative patient
  • Nursing care of the pediatric patient in critical condition
  • Nursing research on perinatal and neonatal patients
  • Nursing care of the pediatric patient with cerebral palsy
  • Nursing research on palliative care

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List of Literature review topics for nursing students

Nursing students need to be familiar with a wide variety of literature review topics in order to become well-rounded professionals . Here are fifty of the most common nursing literature review topics.

  • Nursing care of people with disabilities
  • Advanced practice nurse practitioner roles and responsibilities
  • Infectious diseases in nurses and patients
  • Collaborative care: working together as a team in healthcare settings
  • Leadership concepts in nursing: decision making, planning, organizing, goal setting, communication, delegation, and problem solving
  • Nursing research: methods and applications in population-based studies
  • Violence against nurses:prevention, intervention and response
  • Nursing care of patients with chronic diseases
  • Health assessment in the clinical setting
  • Care of the elderly patient: principles and practice
  • Nursing care of persons with diabetes mellitus
  • Nursing care of the HIV-infected patient
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Researchers, academics and librarians all use various terms to describe different types of literature reviews. Indeed there is often inconsistency between the ways the types are discussed. Here are a couple of simple explanations.

The image below describes common review types in terms of speed, detail, risk of bias and comprehensiveness:

Comparison table of types of reviews

"Schematic of the main differences between the types of literature review" by Brennan, M. L., Arlt, S. P., Belshaw, Z., Buckley, L., Corah, L., Doit, H., Fajt, V. R., Grindlay, D., Moberly, H. K., Morrow, L. D., Stavisky, J., & White, C. (2020). Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) in veterinary medicine: Applying evidence in clinical practice. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7 , 314. is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The table below has been adapted from a widely used typology of fourteen types of reviews, (Grant & Booth, 2009).  Here are four of the most common types:

For a more detailed list of review types, see:

Grant, M.J. & Booth, A. (2009).  A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26 (2), 91-108.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) outlines standards of practice completing a systematic review to ensure consistency and high-quality results.

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Use of ankle–brachial pressure index to assess patient suitability for lower limb compression

The aim of this review is to critically review and analyse findings from contemporary literature to evaluate the effectiveness of the ABPI as a screening tool to assess patients' suitability for the...

literature review topic nursing

The psychological impact of active surveillance in men with prostate cancer: implications for nursing care

The PRISMA flow diagram (Figure 1) illustrates the process used within this literature review to screen search results using the eligibility criteria (Moher et al, 2009). The search was carried out...

Factors influencing retention among hospital nurses: systematic review

The Preferred Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) checklist and flow diagram were used to design and report the review process (Moher et al, 2015) (Figure 1)..

Nursing considerations for supporting cancer patients with metastatic spinal cord compression: a literature review

The search used key words precisely focused to understand the impact and management of MSCC (Box 1). Contextually synonymous key words were included to extend the breadth of available literature....

Sexual function after stoma formation in women with colorectal cancer

‘Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a...

Supporting patients with long-term catheterisation to reduce risk of catheter-associated urinary tract infection

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Integrity of Databases for Literature Searches in Nursing

The quality of literature used as the foundation to any research or scholarly project is critical. The purpose of this study was to analyze the extent to which predatory nursing journals were included in credible databases, MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Scopus, commonly used by nurse scholars when searching for information. Findings indicated that no predatory nursing journals were currently indexed in MEDLINE or CINAHL, and only one journal was in Scopus. Citations to articles published in predatory nursing journals are not likely found in a search using these curated databases but rather through Google or Google Scholar search engines.

Research, evidence-based practice, quality improvement studies, and other scholarly projects typically begin with a literature review. In research, the review of the literature describes existing knowledge about the topic, reveals gaps and further research questions to be answered, and provides a rationale for engaging in a new study. In evidence-based practice, the literature review provides evidence to answer clinical questions and make informed decisions. Quality improvement studies also begin with a search of the literature to gather available knowledge about a problem and explore interventions used in other settings. The appearance of journals that are published by predatory publishers has introduced the danger that reviews of the literature include inadequate, poorly designed, and low-quality information being used as “evidence”—raising the possibility of risky and harmful practice. Researchers and authors should be confident in the literature they cite; readers should have assurance that the literature review is based on sound, authoritative sources. When predatory journals are cited, that trust is eroded. No matter what type of study or project is being done, the quality of literature is critical for the development of nursing knowledge and for providing up-to-date information, concepts, theories, and approaches to care. 1

An effective literature review requires searching various reliable and credible databases such as MEDLINE (through PubMed or Ovid) and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), among others that are relevant to the topic. The ease of searching using a web browser (now commonly referred to as “googling”) has increased the risk of finding sources published in predatory and low-quality journals that have not met the standards of research and scholarship that can be trusted as credible and reliable evidence.

The purpose of this article is to present an analysis of the extent to which predatory nursing journals are included in MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Scopus databases, used by nurse researchers and other nurses when searching for information, and in the Directory of Open Access Journals. This directory indexes “high-quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals” and should not include any predatory journals. 2

Statement of Significance

What is known or assumed to be true about this topic?

The quality of nursing literature used is vital for the development of research studies, application of evidence in clinical settings, and other scholarly projects. Nurse scholars need to be confident as they search the literature that they are accessing sound information sources and not articles from predatory nursing journals, which do not adhere to quality and ethical publishing standards. Citations of articles in predatory nursing journals may be found when searching Google and Google Scholar, making these citations easy to access but potentially resulting in the integration of poor quality research into the nursing literature. On the other hand, searches through credible databases—MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Scopus—are less likely to yield citations from predatory publications.

What this article adds:

This study helps validate the trustworthiness of these databases for conducting searches in nursing.


Many studies have documented the problem of predatory journals. These journals do not adhere to quality and ethical publishing standards, often use deceptive language in emails to encourage authors to submit their manuscripts to them, are open access but may not be transparent with the article processing charge, may have quick but questionable peer review, and may publish inaccurate information on their Web sites such as impact factor and indexing. 3 – 6 Predatory publishing is an issue in many fields including nursing. In a recent study, 127 predatory journals were identified in nursing. 7

Citations acknowledge the ideas of others and give credit to the authors of the original work. When articles are cited in a subsequent publication, those citations disseminate the information beyond the original source, and the article in which it is cited might in turn be referenced again, transferring knowledge from one source to yet another. When articles in predatory journals are cited, the same process occurs. Those citations transfer knowledge from the predatory publication beyond that source. Studies have found that authors are citing articles published in predatory journals in nursing as well as other fields. 7 – 10 Nurse scholars need to be confident as they search the literature that they are accessing sound information sources and not articles from predatory journals.


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) supports researchers and clinicians through its multiple health information resources including PubMed, MEDLINE, and PubMed Central (PMC). PubMed serves as the search engine to access the MEDLINE database, PMC, and books, chapters, and other documents that are indexed by the NLM. PubMed is free and publicly available: by using PubMed, researchers can search more than 30 million citations to the biomedical literature. 11 The majority of records in PubMed are from MEDLINE, which has citations from more than 5200 scholarly journals. For inclusion in MEDLINE, journals are assessed for their quality by the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee. 12 Five areas are included in this assessment: scope of the journal (ie, in a biomedical subject); quality of the content (validity, importance of the content, originality, and contribution of the journal to the coverage of the field); editorial standards and practices; production quality (eg, layout and graphics); and audience (content addresses health care professionals).

PMC includes journal citations and full-text articles that are selected by the NLM for digital archiving. To be included in PMC, journals are evaluated for their scope and scientific, editorial, and technical quality. 13 Journals considered for inclusion are evaluated by independent individuals both inside and outside PMC. 14 PMC serves as the repository for articles to meet the compliance requirements of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies for public access to funded research. About 12% of the articles in PMC are deposited by individual authors to be in compliance with funders and 64% by publishers, scholarly societies, and other groups. 15 Beginning in June 2020, as a pilot program, preprints reporting research funded by the NIH also can be deposited in PMC. 16


The journal assessment and indexing processes for CINAHL and Scopus are similar to those used by the NLM. However, as private corporations, EBSCO (CINAHL) and Elsevier (Scopus) are not required to make journal selection processes publicly available or explicit. CINAHL has an advisory board for journal selection. A CINAHL representative provided the following criteria for indexing of journals in CINAHL: high impact factor; usage in reputable subject indexes (eg, the NLM catalog); peer-reviewed journals covered by other databases (eg, Web of Science and Scopus); top-ranked journals by industry studies; and article quality (avoiding low-quality journals) (personal communication, October 19, 2020).

Elsevier's Scopus provides a webpage referring to the journal selection and assessment processes. Journals being considered for indexing in Scopus are evaluated by the Content Selection and Advisory Board and must meet the following criteria: peer-reviewed with a publicly available description of the peer review process; published on a regular basis; has a registered International Standard Serial Number (ISSN); includes references in Roman (Latin) script; has English language titles and abstracts; and has publicly available publication ethics and publication malpractice statements. 17


Studies have shown that in health care fields, researchers, clinicians, faculty, and students regularly search MEDLINE for their research and other scholarly and clinical information. 18 – 21 De Groote et al 18 found that 81% of health science faculty used MEDLINE to locate articles for their research. MEDLINE was used by the majority of faculty in each individual health care field including nursing (75%) and medicine (87.5%) for searching the literature and finding articles. In another study of 15 different resources, medical faculty and residents reported that PubMed was used most frequently for searching the databases of the NLM, primarily MEDLINE. 20 Few studies have focused on the search practices of nurses. In a review of the literature, Alving et al 22 found that hospital nurses primarily searched Google for information on evidence-based nursing. They used Google more than bibliographic databases.

The quality of content that is retrieved when using PubMed as a search engine is important considering its widespread use for accessing scholarly and clinical information in nursing and other fields. Manca et al 23 reported that articles published in predatory journals were being retrieved when conducting searches using PubMed and were a concern for researchers. Based on their studies of predatory journals in neurology 24 and rehabilitation, 25 they concluded that predatory journals “leaked into PubMed” through PMC because of less stringent criteria for inclusion of journals. 23 Citations to articles from predatory journals then could be found using the PubMed search engine. However, in a letter to the editor, Topper et al 26 from the NLM clarified that individual articles published in predatory journals might be deposited in PMC to meet the requirements of research funding and be searchable in PubMed. Topper and colleagues make a clear distinction between journals indexed in MEDLINE or PMC and citations of individual articles that were deposited in PMC to meet funder requirements.

The aim of this study was to determine whether predatory nursing journals were included in databases used by nurse researchers and other nurses when searching for information. These databases included MEDLINE (searched via PubMed), CINAHL (EBSCO), and Scopus (Elsevier) and in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

In an earlier study, 127 predatory nursing journals were identified and assessed for characteristics of predatory publications. That dataset was used for the current study. For each predatory nursing journal, information was retrieved from the NLM Catalog, Ulrichsweb, and journal and publisher Web sites. Ulrichsweb 27 provides bibliographic and publisher information on academic and scholarly journals, open access journals, peer-reviewed titles, magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Journal titles of the predatory journals were often similar to nonpredatory journals and could be easily mistaken. To ensure accuracy, the information for each journal was checked for consistency between these sources using the ISSN, exact journal title, and publisher name. The purpose of an ISSN is to identify a publication and distinguish it from other publications with similar names. An ISSN is mandatory for all publications in many countries and having one assigned is considered a journal best practice. 28 For each predatory journal, the following data were collected if available: complete journal title; abbreviated journal title; acronym; ISSN (electronic and/or print); DOI prefix; publisher name and Web site URL; NLM index status; number of predatory journal articles cited in MEDLINE and PMC (when searching using PubMed), in CINAHL, and in Scopus; if the journal was indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals; status in Ulrichsweb; and Google Scholar profile URL.

Counts of articles cited were checked individually by journal title, publisher, and/or ISSN. Once ISSNs (both electronic and print where available) were assembled, a search algorithm was created, which included all retrieved journal ISSNs. MEDLINE was searched via PubMed using a combination of NLM journal title abbreviations and ISSNs. CINAHL, Scopus, and the Directory of Open Access Journals were searched using a combination of ISSN, journal title abbreviation, full title, and publisher. Results were visually inspected for accuracy and alignment with dataset fields.

Data analysis

Data were collected between January and April 2020. Data were entered into an Excel spreadsheet and organized by predatory journal name; abbreviated journal title; acronym; ISSN (electronic, print); DOI prefix; Web site URL; entry in NLM Catalog (yes/no); index status; number of articles cited in PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus; Directory of Open Access Journals (included/not included); Ulrichsweb status (active/ceased); publisher; and Google Scholar profile URL. Frequencies and medians are reported.

Of the 127 predatory nursing journals in the dataset, only 102 had ISSNs to use for the search. Eighteen of the journals had records in the NLM Catalog, but only 2 of those had ever been indexed in MEDLINE, and neither are currently indexed. These 2 journals had been published earlier by a reputable publisher but then were sold to one of the large predatory publishers. The NLM Catalog record for these journals indicates that citations of articles from them appeared in MEDLINE through 2014 for one of the journals and 2018 for other, but following their transition to the new publisher are no longer included. Consistent with the MEDLINE results, these same 2 journals had been indexed in Scopus as well. Citations of articles from one of these journals were added to Scopus up to 2014, with no articles cited thereafter. Articles from the second journal continue to be added through 2020. One additional journal from the predatory journal dataset is currently in Scopus, however, only through 2014. None of the predatory nursing journals were indexed in CINAHL based on full journal title, title abbreviation, ISSN, or publisher. Two journals in the dataset were found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

When searching PubMed, we found citations of articles from 16 predatory nursing journals. The number of citations ranged from 1 to 372 citations (from one of the journals indexed earlier in MEDLINE but sold to a predatory publisher). The second highest number of citations (n = 168) was of articles from a predatory nursing journal that had been depositing articles in PMC (and thus were retrievable when searching PubMed) but is no longer adding new material to PMC. The other citations were of articles deposited in PMC to meet requirements of NIH and other research funding. The predatory journals in which these articles were published, however, are not indexed in MEDLINE or PMC.

There were no articles from predatory nursing journals cited in CINAHL. Scopus has citations from the 2 predatory nursing journals that are no longer indexed there: 616 that were published in one of the journals and 120 from the other. Articles from a third predatory nursing journal in the study dataset, which is currently indexed in Scopus, totaled 173 (see Table).

Abbreviation: CINAHL, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature.

a Predatory nursing journals with 3 or more citations to articles.

b Search using PubMed.

This analysis documented that none of the predatory nursing journals in the study dataset were currently indexed in MEDLINE or CINAHL, and only one journal is still in Scopus. Most of the citations of articles from predatory journals found in a search of these databases are from earlier years before the journals were sold to one of the large predatory publishers. Other citations are to articles deposited in PMC in compliance with research funder requirements.

By using PubMed as a search engine and entry point to the databases of the NLM, researchers can search millions of records included in MEDLINE, or in process for inclusion, and articles from PMC deposited by publishers or authors for compliance with funders. Six million records, and about 5500 journals, can be searched in CINAHL Complete, 29 and Scopus, the largest of the proprietary databases, provides access to 24000 journals and 60 million records. 30 Results from this study show that very few articles published in predatory nursing journals find their way into a search done using PubMed and Scopus and none into CINAHL.

In a prior study, 814 citations of articles in predatory nursing journals were found in articles published in nonpredatory nursing journals. 7 Based on this current study, the conclusion can be made that these citations are not coming from searches in MEDLINE/PubMed, CINAHL, or Scopus and are likely from searches done using Google or Google Scholar as the search engine. The databases examined in this study are curated by organizations with a vested interest in maintaining and improving the quality of the research literature in those databases.

Searching multiple databases using different search engines can be frustrating and time consuming. There is overlap among MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Scopus. However, these are curated databases and, as this study found, are unlikely to return many, if any, predatory citations as part of the search results. Still, it falls on the searcher to eliminate duplicates and redundant citations. Further, certain types of literature, such as theses, dissertations, and fugitive (or “gray” literature), 31 are unlikely to be found in any of these databases, even though those citations may be important or relevant sources. Given this, it is easy to understand the intuitive appeal of Google Scholar, which provides “one stop shopping”: “From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.” 32 Google and Google Scholar were founded with a mission to become the most comprehensive search engines in the world. While this allows someone to scour the World Wide Web and Internet for some of the most obscure facts available, at the same time, little is done to verify or validate the results that are returned. Thus, it falls on the searcher to be diligent and evaluate the results of a Google or Google Scholar search, which will include citations of articles in predatory journals. This is easily confirmed by the fact that many predatory journal Web sites promote the Google Scholar logo as a sign of indexing or a badge of legitimacy.

Another vexing issue that was revealed in this study is that of reputable journals that have been bought by predatory publishers. This study found 2 journals in this category. Brown 33 reported on 16 medical specialty journals that were purchased from 2 Canadian commercial publishers by a predatory publisher. In all these cases, it is the same predatory publisher, although some of the purchases were made under a different business imprint, adding further confusion to an already muddied situation. Jeffrey Beall, who coined the term “predatory publisher” and maintained the blog “Scholarly Open Access” for almost a decade, was quoted by Brown 33 : “[The company] is not only buying journals, it is buying metrics and indexing, such as the journals' impact factors and listing in Scopus and PubMed, in order to look legitimate.” One positive finding from this study was that the 2 purchased journals that were identified were quickly de-accessioned by the NLM and are no longer indexed in MEDLINE, although citations from their pre-predatory era remain intact.


All of this presents a confusing picture, but it is possible to make some specific recommendations to aid researchers, clinicians, faculty, and students in their literature searches. First, become familiar with the journals and publications in your field. This is a basic foundation of scholarship. As you read articles, remember where they were published, learn journal titles, and focus on sources as well as the content. As you come across predatory journals in nursing and health care, make note of them and learn their titles too. Remember that many predatory journals adopt names that are intended to be confusing and may differ from a legitimate journal by only one letter, such as “Africa” and “African.”

Second, consider carefully how to approach your search from the outset. If you choose to start with MEDLINE (searched via PubMed), CINAHL, or Scopus, then you can have some assurance that the results will not return citations from predatory journals—although you should still verify every citation that you receive. On the other hand, Google and Google Scholar can be a “quick and easy” way to get started but will require that you carefully review and evaluate the results. If you need to venture to other more specialized databases, such as PsycInfo or ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), it is important to carefully inspect the results that you receive. To reduce the risk of including a predatory journal article in research, nursing scholars should use reputable bibliographic databases, which have clear criteria for journal indexing, for their searches.

Third, when you come across a journal title that is not familiar, take time to research it, visit the journal Web site and evaluate the information at the Web site, and determine whether it is a credible source to include in your results. If something seems irregular, then it is worth your time to do more investigating—either on your own or by enlisting the help of a knowledgeable colleague or librarian. Journals change publishers all the time, and while most of these business transfers are benign and probably will not impact you as an end consumer of the literature, that is not always the case. Likewise, the major publishers in the world today are large, multinational conglomerates that regularly spin off or purchase other companies. While this probably will not impact you on a day-to-day basis, it is important to investigate any irregularities when conducting a search of the literature.

Last, because these issues are complex and multifaceted, it is always wise to consult with a librarian who can assist you in every step of the search process. Their knowledge and expertise in information literacy, data sources, and searching techniques can help to ensure that you find the information you need from sources that are reliable and credible.

Researchers, clinicians, faculty, and students need to be careful not to include citations from predatory sources in their literature searches and articles. Predatory journals publish low-quality studies and citing this work erodes the scholarly literature in nursing. The findings of this study offer some reassurance to those who search the professional nursing literature: if you begin a search in a database such as MEDLINE, CINAHL, or Scopus, then the results will probably not include citations to predatory publications. Google and Google Scholar searches, however, may very well include predatory citations, and in that case, it is the searcher's responsibility to carefully evaluate the output and discard findings from nonlegitimate sources. Enlisting the help of a librarian is always beneficial and highly recommended.

Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN, Editor, Advances in Nursing Science , is a member of our research team and contributed to the study and preparation of the manuscript.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

  • Open access
  • Published: 13 May 2024

Nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies: a cross-sectional survey

  • Yasmin Ibrahim Abdelkader Khider 1 ,
  • Shaimaa Mohamed Elghareeb Allam 1 ,
  • Mohamed A. Zoromba 2 , 3 &
  • Heba Mohammed Mahmoud Elhapashy 1  

BMC Nursing volume  23 , Article number:  323 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

73 Accesses

Metrics details

Nurses constitute the largest body of healthcare professionals globally, positioning them at the forefront of enhancing patient safety. Despite their crucial role, there is a notable gap in the literature regarding the comprehension and competency of nursing students in patient safety within Egypt. This gap underscores the urgent need for research to explore how nursing students perceive patient safety and the extent to which these competencies are integrated into their clinical and educational experiences. Understanding these perspectives is essential for developing targeted interventions that can significantly improve patient safety outcomes. The objective of this study was to fill this gap by assessing the perspectives of nursing intern students on patient safety competencies, thereby contributing to the global efforts in enhancing patient safety education and practice.

In this research, a cross-sectional study design was employed to investigate the topic at hand. A purposive sample of 266 nursing intern students was enrolled from the Faculty of Nursing at Mansoura University. The data were collected using a patient safety survey. Subsequently, the collected data underwent analysis through the application of descriptive and inferential statistical techniques using SPSS-20 software.

Among the studied intern nursing students, we found that 55.3% and 59.4% of the involved students agreed that they could understand the concept of patient safety and the burden of medical errors. Regarding clinical safety issues, 51.1% and 54.9% of the participating students agreed that they felt confident in what they had learned about identifying patients correctly and avoiding surgical errors, respectively. Concerning error reporting issues, 40.2% and 37.2% of the involved students agreed that they were aware of error reports and enumerated the barriers to incident reporting, respectively. There was a statistically significant difference between the nursing student patient safety overview domain and their age ( p  = 0.025).


Our study's compelling data demonstrated that intern students who took part in the patient safety survey scored higher overall in all patient safety-related categories. However, problems with error reporting showed the lowest percentage. The intern students would benefit from additional educational and training workshops to increase their perspectives on patients' safety competencies.

Peer Review reports


Patient safety refers to the perspectives, beliefs, attitudes, and values shared among members of the health community that focus on the prevention of errors and adverse effects on patients associated with health care [ 1 ]. In addition to becoming more efficient, health care has also grown more complicated due to the increased use of novel tools, medications, and therapies [ 2 ]. Medical errors (MEs) are a major public health concern that endangers patient safety significantly. Research conducted in Australia found that 16.6% of all admissions resulted in preventable negative outcomes, with approximately 5% of cases involving an iatrogenic injury ending in death [ 3 ].

Adverse event incidence rates varied from 2.9% to 16.6%. About 5% to 13% of the patients in these situations passed away, but 25% to 50% of them were thought to have been avoidable [ 4 ]. MEs can occur in any care setting, including hospitals, health centers, clinics, and laboratories; thus, they can negatively affect patient safety [ 5 ].

Medical errors raise hospital and medical expense costs in both wealthy and underdeveloped nations, which lowers the standard of healthcare systems. The most common errors that practitioners should exercise great care to avoid are catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line bloodstream infections, adverse drug events, falls, pressure ulcers, obstetrical adverse events, venous thrombosis, surgical site infections, and the development of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Errors can be prevented by changing the healthcare system to make it more difficult for practitioners to perform incorrect actions and easier for them to do correct ones [ 6 ].

More time is spent with patients by nurses than by any other healthcare practitioner, making them the largest profession in the health sector. Therefore, in addition to advocating for patient safety, nurses can significantly reduce errors [ 7 ]. Students’ perspectives are how students think to respond about what they have done or about what they learned [ 8 ]. The viewpoints of nursing students can shed light on how nursing education helps prepare students to give safe care both while they are enrolled in school and after they become practitioners. Their identification of the strengths and limitations of curriculum and teaching practices can help guide our efforts to enhance nurse education and improve healthcare systems [ 9 ].

Therefore, nursing college students must comprehend and develop patient safety competency, as this fosters patients' recuperation, averts unfavorable situations, and has been a global priority for academic and healthcare institutions. Additionally, ensuring patient safety not only improves healthcare outcomes but also enhances the reputation and credibility of healthcare institutions. By prioritizing patient safety, nursing colleges can produce competent and skilled nurses who contribute to the overall development and progress of the healthcare industry [ 10 ].

Consequently, we investigated how nursing college final-year students perceived their level of patient safety competency. These results will be useful in formulating plans to raise students' proficiency in patient safety among health professionals.

Significance of the study

Patient safety issues have become a priority in health policy and healthcare management. It was reported that MEs are the third principal cause of death in the USA, with an estimated 251,000 deaths annually. Patient safety is considered an endemic concern by the WHO. However, literature reports that nursing students might need more knowledge and skills to enhance patient safety. Moreover, the students need help managing errors that might occur [ 11 ].

Also, nursing curricula need more emphasis on patient safety. Graduate nurses should have sufficient knowledge to recognize potential safety risks [ 12 ]. Sufficient knowledge will increase nursing students' confidence to protect patients from potential harm, errors, and avoidable injuries [ 13 ]. Thus, it is imperative to evaluate nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies.

Aim of the study

The study aims to evaluate nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies.

Research objectives

Assess nursing students' knowledge regarding patient safety competencies.

Evaluate nursing students' perspectives on patient safety competencies.

Research questions

What are nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies?

Research design

A descriptive cross-sectional design was utilized in this study. Descriptive cross-sectional studies explain things or how things are related to each other at a specific time [ 14 ]. A descriptive cross-sectional design was suitable for assessing nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies in accordance with the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STORBE) statement ( Appendix ).

This study was conducted at the Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University, Egypt.

Study sample

A purposive sample of 266 internship nursing students from both genders was included in the study. Purposive sampling was chosen due to its effectiveness in identifying and selecting individuals that meet a predefined set of characteristics essential for the research question. This approach ensured that the participants had a foundational understanding of nursing practices and were in the process of applying these concepts in a clinical environment, making their perspectives on patient safety both unique and immediately relevant. Students were chosen because they have received sufficient training to practice nursing care, and it is also important to investigate nursing safety considerations among these students before offering complete care to patients.

The appropriate sample size for this investigation was determined using the Steven K. Thompson equation [ 15 ]. There are 516 students enrolled in nursing internships overall, according to the Student Affairs administration. A minimum of 221 students should be included in the sample size for this study, according to the previously provided data. As the confidence level is 95%, the error proportion is 0.05, and the probabilities are 50%, add 20% for better data and follow-up drop. So the final number should be 266 nursing students.

Inclusion criteria include intern nursing students of both genders who are enrolled in the orientation program in the faculty of nursing at Mansoura University, willing to participate, and signing informed consent. Exclusion criteria include students who have a nursing diploma before joining the faculty of nursing, as those students have more knowledge and clinical experience than other students.

One tool was used in this study to collect pertinent data.

Patient Safety Survey (PSS)

Our literature review revealed that while there are several established tools for assessing patient safety competencies, most are tailored to qualified healthcare professionals or general nursing students, without a specific focus on internship nursing students in the Egyptian context. Furthermore, our study aimed to explore nuanced aspects of patient safety competencies, including students' perspectives on error reporting and clinical safety issues specific to their internship experiences. These nuances were not adequately covered by existing tools. Therefore, to capture the specific competencies and perspectives of our target population accurately, we decided to develop PSS. Researchers developed this survey after reviewing national and international literature reviews [ 16 , 17 , 18 ]. This survey consists of 24 items, divided into two parts. Part one is used to assess internship nursing students’ socio-demographic data. This data includes four items: student name, age, gender, and residence.

Part two is designed to measure internship nursing students’ perspectives regarding patient safety issues. This part covers students’ perspectives in three domains: an overview of patient safety (five items), clinical safety issues (10 items), and error reporting (five items). A 5-point Likert scale, with one representing "strongly disagree" and five representing "strongly agree," was used to gauge the students' perspectives .

Validity and reliability

The researcher developed the study tool after reviewing national and international literature [ 16 , 17 , 18 ]. The content validity of the PSS was rigorously evaluated through a structured process involving a panel of seven experts in nursing education, patient safety, and research methodology. These experts were selected based on their extensive experience and contributions to the field, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of the tool's content. Initially, the development of the survey items was informed by an extensive review of both national and international literature on patient safety competencies. This ensured that the content of the tool was grounded in the latest research and best practices in the field. The draft version of the PSS was then presented to the expert panel for evaluation. Each expert independently assessed the relevance, clarity, and comprehensiveness of the survey items, using a standardized scale to rate each item.

Based on the expert ratings, the Content Validity Index (CVI) for the tool was calculated. The CVI provides a quantitative measure of the degree to which experts agree that the survey items are relevant and representative of the construct of patient safety competencies. For our tool, the CVI was calculated at 0.82, indicating a high level of agreement among experts and confirming the content validity of the PSS. A CVI of 0.82 suggests that the majority of the items were deemed relevant and essential for assessing patient safety competencies among nursing students.

In addition to assessing content relevance, the expert panel also provided feedback on the face validity of the tool, focusing on the clarity, simplicity, and readability of the items. This process ensured that the survey would be easily understood by the target population of nursing intern students. Following the expert panel review, several adjustments were made to enhance the clarity and respondent-friendliness of the survey. For instance, the original binary response format was modified to a five-point Likert scale to allow for a more nuanced expression of respondents' perspectives. Additionally, based on expert suggestions, specific items, such as “I know the institution of medicine report, To Error is Human, and its recommendations," were added to enrich the tool's comprehensiveness and relevance. The reliability of the tools was tested using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (0.89 for the patient safety survey, part two).

Pilot study

A pilot study was conducted with 27 participants, representing 10% of the total sample, to test the tool's applicability in the research setting. Feedback from the pilot study identified potential issues and challenges. Modifications were made to the survey tool, ensuring relevance and comprehensibility and addressing practical issues.

Data collection

Ethical approval was obtained from the Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University . The study tool, a patient safety survey, was developed by the researcher based on a recent relevant literature review. A panel of seven experts in the associated fields evaluated the study instrument for face- and content-related validity, and any necessary adjustments were made in response. The reliability of the tools was tested using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (0.89 for the patient safety survey, part two). A pilot study was carried out with 27 (10%) of the study sample to test the feasibility and applicability of the study tool, and it will be excluded from the study sample. The necessary modifications were made accordingly. The researchers introduced themselves to the selected internship nursing students. The researchers explained the nature and purpose of this study to the study sample. After accepting to participate in this study, the researchers started to collect students’ socio-demographic data and their perspectives regarding patient safety issues using the study tool. Each student was given the appropriate time to answer the patient safety survey (about 20–30 min). The data was collected from January to February 2024.

To avoid bias in the study, we employed a purposive sampling strategy to select a representative sample of internship nursing students from Mansoura University. This strategy was chosen based on specific inclusion and exclusion criteria designed to minimize selection bias and ensure that our sample accurately reflected the population of interest. Additionally, to address potential information bias, we rigorously developed and validated the Patient Safety Survey. The survey underwent a pilot study to identify and correct any ambiguities, further enhancing the reliability and validity of the data collected. The uniform application of a 5-point Likert scale across all survey items was a deliberate choice to provide a consistent measure of nursing students' perspectives, thereby reducing measurement bias. Additionally, we standardized the training for all researchers involved in data collection to ensure uniform survey administration. We took several measures to minimize response bias, including guaranteeing anonymity and confidentiality for all participants and making participation entirely voluntary. These steps were intended to foster an environment where students felt comfortable providing honest and accurate responses without fear of repercussions.

Statistical analysis of the data

The computer was fed data, and IBM SPSS software package version 20.0 was used for analysis. [IBM Corp. Armonk, NY] Numbers and percentages were used to describe the qualitative data. The distribution's normality was confirmed using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. The range (minimum and maximum), mean, standard deviation, and median were used to characterize quantitative data. The results were deemed significant at the 5% level. Student t-test: to compare two examined categories for quantitative variables that are regularly distributed. F-test (ANOVA): for normally distributed quantitative variables, to compare between more than two categories. Pearson coefficient: to correlate between two normally distributed quantitative variables.

Ethical considerations and human rights

The Research Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Nursing at Mansoura University in Egypt provided ethical permission (No.0526). After being fully informed about the purpose of the study, each intern nursing student who was enrolled gave their informed consent. The pupils were reminded by the researcher that participation is completely voluntary. Throughout the whole study, confidentiality, privacy, safety, and anonymity were guaranteed. Every participant was free to leave the research at any moment. The survey did not include participant names or any other type of identifying information. The Helsinki Declaration and other pertinent rules and regulations carry out every procedure.

Demographic characteristics

The study included a total of 266 students. About 57.9% of the involved students were aged 22, and 65% of them were female. Moreover, 64.7% of the enrolled students lived in rural areas. All the involved students (100%) were from Mansoura University (Table  1 ).

Students’ distribution according to the patient safety overview domain

Among the studied intern nursing students, we found that 55.3%, 59.4%, 40.6%, 41.7%, and 49.6% of the involved students agreed that they can understand the concept of patient safety, understand the burden of medical errors, differentiate between errors, adverse events, close call/near miss, and sentinel events, know the Institution of Medicine report “To Error is Human” and its recommendations, and are aware of the ethical aspect of patient safety. The total score of the patient safety overview domain (mean ± SD) was 19.76 ± 2.69 (Table  2 ).

Distribution of the studied students according to clinical safety issues

Regarding clinical safety issues, 50.4%, 51.1%, 54.9%, 52.3%, and 52.3% of the participating students agreed that they felt confident in what they had learned about curbing infection spread, identifying patients correctly, avoiding surgical errors, using medicines safely, and preventing venous thromboembolism, respectively. In addition, 51.1%, 52.3%, 47.7%, 48.1%, and 48.5% of the participating students agreed that they felt confident in what they had learned about customizing hospital discharges, using good hospital design principles, assembling better teams and rapid response systems, sharing data for quality improvement, and fostering an open-communication culture (Table  3 ).

Distribution of the studied students according to error reporting issues domain

Concerning their error reporting, 40.2%, 50%, 37.2%, 44.7%, and 41% of the involved students agreed that they were aware of error reports, understood the importance of incident reports, enumerated the barriers to incident reporting, listed the features of an incident report, and differentiated between manual and electronic incidence reports (Table  4 ).

Relation between nursing students’ perspectives toward patient safety, their gender, and their age

Regarding gender, there was no statistically significant difference between nursing students' perceptions of patient safety and their gender ( p  > 0.05). At the same time, there was a statistically significant difference between the nursing student patient safety overview domain and their age ( p  = 0.025) (Table  5 ).

Correlation among nursing students’ perspectives domains toward patient safety

There were very high positive correlations between the overall patient safety score and its three domains: the patient safety overview domain ( r  = 0.806, p  < 0.001), the clinical safety issues domain ( r  = 0.932, p  < 0.001), and the error reporting domain ( r  = 0.842, p  < 0.001). Moreover, there was a statistically significant difference between the patient safety overview domain and the clinical safety issues domain ( p  < 0.001) with a high positive correlation ( r  = 0.659). In addition, there was a moderately positive correlation between the patient safety overview domain and the error reporting domain with a statistically significant difference ( r  = 0.543, p  < 0.001). Also, there was a high positive correlation between the clinical safety issues domain and the error reporting domain ( r  = 0.660, p  < 0.001) (Table  6 ).

Nursing students are the foundation upon which nursing care for patients will be built, and patient safety must be considered the cornerstone of the student’s education before graduation to prepare them well to provide the best care with the highest quality and efficiency [ 19 ]. Working across professions in clinical fields requires an early understanding of the responsibilities of different healthcare providers and the extent of nursing students' engagement [ 20 ].

Using a self-reported approach, we evaluated nursing students' perspectives of patient safety competency concerning safety overview, clinical safety issues, and error reporting issues. Our study's compelling data demonstrated that intern students who took part in the patient safety survey scored higher overall in all patient safety-related categories. When it came to clinical safety considerations, the students received the highest percentage of points. On the other hand, problems with error reporting showed the lowest percentage.

The clinical safety dimension, with its focus primarily on infection control, patient identification, safe medication administration, and waste disposal, might be the most familiar to students, as our students start clinical training from the first academic level in the hospital with regular and varied evaluations that help them to have a comprehensive understanding of nursing students' proficiency in infection control and patient identification. Another possible explanation for this is that combining written assessments, practical evaluations, simulations, and real-world clinical experiences in our faculty allows educators to gauge students' competence and readiness for professional practice, which increases their knowledge base.

This is in line with the results of a study in Portugal, which reported a high perception of students in terms of infection control [ 21 ]. Another study conducted in Saudi Arabia indicated a modest perception among nursing students regarding infection prevention [ 22 ]. Regarding the error reporting issue, this is because students were worried about disciplinary actions, damage to their reputation, or a potential impact on their academic and professional future. Also, the majority of our students are from rural areas with a blame culture present that can discourage open communication about error reporting.

Another significant aspect of the safety overview domain is that students have a deeper perspective on the burden of medication errors and the concept of patient safety. This finding might relate to prior exposure to patient safety-related topics. This is in harmony with those of Chan 2019, who reported students had a good perception of general terms and the concept of safety [ 23 ]. Another study assessing medical students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes also reported high perceptions of students regarding general aspects of patient safety [ 24 ].

Another interesting finding regarding clinical safety issues is that the high perspective and confidence percentage about avoiding surgical error and the lowered perspective percentage represented assembling better teams and rapid response systems. We attribute this superiority in preventing surgical errors to the fact that the majority of respondents work part-time in the surgical and plastic surgery hospitals spread across the governorate, which gave them practical experience in this part. In combination with education, experience, mentorship, and a supportive healthcare culture, this contributes to nursing interns developing a positive perception regarding avoiding surgical errors. Following the present results, a previous study in Turkey demonstrated that nurses who formerly received preparation on patient safety had a higher statistical percentage [ 25 ]. However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research that reported that pre-licensure nursing students have little knowledge regarding perioperative care and should be well-trained again [ 26 ].

Regarding lack of perspective in assembling a better team and rapid response system, because interns feel hesitant to voice concerns or take charge due to hierarchical structures, insufficient resources, both in terms of staffing and equipment, may hinder the interns' ability to assemble an effective team and respond. This outcome is contrary to that of Kamran, who reported that the best score of safety was given for team functioning and response [ 27 ].

Regarding gender, there was no statistically significant difference between nursing students’ perspectives on patient safety and their gender ( p  > 0.05). This is in line with those of Ramírez, who reported that the differences in means between genders were not significantly different in the overall perspective of patient safety [ 28 ]. Additionally, those who stated that there were no discernible variations in opinions about gender and past exposure to medical errors ( p  =  > 0.05) [ 27 ]. This outcome is contrary to that stated: male students apparent competence in “working in teams” is higher than that of females [ 29 ].

Another pilot study reported that the overall patient safety grade, the number of reported events, and the number of reported events by nursing students were significantly predicted by several patient safety competence dimensions ( p  ≤ 0.05) [ 30 ].

Our results indicated that there is a significant relationship between age and patient safety. The rationale of this finding is that during the academic years, including clinical practicum, students’ ability to communicate with patients and other health professionals clearly and consistently seemed to increase with age. Similar positive student assessments about safety and age have been noted in a study by Usher, who reported highly significant scores of patient safety with age and level of students. The results are also inconsistent with those conducted in Australia and New Zealand that assess nursing students' patient safety knowledge. These results corroborate the findings of a great deal of the previous work reported a significant difference was found in the patient safety competence of nursing students with year of study [ 29 ].

Another finding that stands out from the results is that there were very high positive correlations between the overall patient safety score and the three domains. These results reflect those of another study that examined the relationship between all-cause harm and patient safety and demonstrated strong correlations between all-cause harm measures and patient safety culture [ 31 ]. These findings also lend support to previous literature, which reported that subscales of safety correlated positively with the perceived patient safety culture scale [ 32 ]. Our finding also supports evidence from previous observations that found a positive correlation between the six domains and safety-related behaviors [ 33 ].

Another finding is that there was a statistically significant difference between the patient safety overview domain and the clinical safety issues domain. The same results were reported in a cross-sectional study conducted in China that assessed the patient safety competency of Chinese nurses [ 34 ]. Also, there was a high positive correlation between the clinical safety issues domain and the error reporting domain; this finding is consistent with Mahsoon [ 35 ]. This finding is contrary to the findings of another Saudi cross-sectional study that showed a significant negative correlation [ 36 ]. Another vital aspect of patient safety that students recognized is likewise related to understanding the function of trust and error reporting in maintaining patient safety.

Nursing students ought to have a strong understanding of patient safety, grounded in the highest standards of nursing care. Students completing nursing internships knew about patient safety. This result supports the conclusion drawn from several recent studies that patient safety education improves nurses' patient safety competence. These elements could have an impact on nursing students' patient safety competence and performance. The intern students would benefit from additional educational and training workshops to increase their perspectives on patients' safety competencies. Therefore, we recommend that academic institutions and medical facilities reorganize the framework for patient safety education to begin at the earliest academic level while taking into account students' pedagogical demands and varying safety levels. This will be done to increase public awareness of patient safety education. Establishing a structured curriculum on patient safety and upholding this shift in hospital culture is also crucial if we are to optimize the impact of patient safety education. Future research in various cultural and contextual settings is necessary to enhance our understanding of the variables affecting patient safety in nursing practice and education.


When evaluating the results, it is important to take into account the study's limitations, which include its cross-sectional design and the inclusion of only one site. An additional constraint pertains to the survey's timing, which was carried out during the internship's orientation program. The student was not entirely tasked with providing comprehensive and intense care to patients with minimal exposure to clinical safety and real-error reporting concerns. The results could have been altered if the data had been gathered closer to the internship's conclusion, when the students would have gained more clinical experience. The study was conducted at a single nursing faculty; the use of purposive sampling, while ensuring a detailed exploration of our specific research question, may also limit the generalizability of the results. Therefore, it is recommended that it be repeated across other faculties to enable generalization of results.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to protecting the confidentiality of the participants, but are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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The authors would like to thank the nursing student who participated in this study.

Open access funding provided by The Science, Technology & Innovation Funding Authority (STDF) in cooperation with The Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB). This research did not receive explicit support from any public organizations, businesses, or the private sector.

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Medical-Surgical Nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt

Yasmin Ibrahim Abdelkader Khider, Shaimaa Mohamed Elghareeb Allam & Heba Mohammed Mahmoud Elhapashy

College of Nursing, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia

Mohamed A. Zoromba

Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt

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YIAK: conceptualization, data collection, validation, visualization, original draft preparation, and writing; SMEA: reviewing, editing, and resources; MAZ: software, and data analysis; HMME: reviewing, editing, and resources. All the authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript to be published.

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Correspondence to Yasmin Ibrahim Abdelkader Khider .

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Khider, Y.I.A., Allam, S.M.E., Zoromba, M.A. et al. Nursing students’ perspectives on patients' safety competencies: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Nurs 23 , 323 (2024).

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Received : 28 February 2024

Accepted : 22 April 2024

Published : 13 May 2024


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  • Nursing students
  • Patients’ safety
  • Competencies

BMC Nursing

ISSN: 1472-6955

literature review topic nursing

REVIEW article

This article is part of the research topic.

Translational Research in Surgical Applications and Spinal Tumors

Role of Immunotherapy in Treatment Refractory Chordomas: Review of Current Evidence Provisionally Accepted

  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery and Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, University of Minnesota, United States

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Chordomas are aggressive tumors that are thought to arise from remnants of the embryological notochord. They can arise along the ventromedial aspect of the sacrum, mobile spine, and clivus with most cases occurring in the sacrum or skull base. Despite surgery and radiation, chordomas often progress and become refractory to further treatment. The high recurrence rate has created an urgent need to develop new systemic treatment options. Recent case reports and clinical trials have highlighted the use of immunotherapy for refractory chordomas. In this review, we summarize the results of these studies and discuss the potential role of immunotherapy for chordomas.The PUBMED database was queried for studies mentioning both "Chordoma" and "Immunotherapy." All case series and case reports that involved administration of an immunotherapy for chordoma were included. Additional studies that were found during literature review were added. ClinicalTrials.Gov was queried for studies mentioning both "Chordoma" and "Immunotherapy." The final cohort consisted of all clinical trials that utilized immunotherapy for chordomas of any location.Eight case reports and series of immunotherapy for treatment refractory chordoma were identified.Most patients received immunotherapy targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction, and two patient received therapy targeting this interaction along with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor pazopanib. One patient received a vaccine derived from autologous tumor cells, and one patient received a viral vector that downregulated the effect of TGF-beta. One clinical utilized a brachyury vaccine in conjunction with standard of care radiotherapy.Immunotherapy for chordoma is a promising area of investigation with increasing, but small, numbers of case series and clinical trials. Despite challenges in patient accrual, future directions in chordoma immunotherapy may lie in vaccine-based therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Understanding chordoma heterogeneity and microenvironment will likely elucidate important chordoma features that will inform future clinical trial design.

Keywords: Chordoma, metastasis, Spine, Skull Base, Immunotherapy, oncology, tumor

Received: 24 Jan 2024; Accepted: 14 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Alexander, Dhawan and Venteicher. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Andrew S. Venteicher, Department of Neurosurgery and Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States

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