How to undertake a scoping review
Intended for healthcare professionals
How to series    

How to undertake a scoping review

Jacqueline Harley Assistant professor in health systems, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To appreciate the value of nurses scoping the literature on a chosen subject

  • To become familiar with the main steps involved in undertaking a scoping review

  • To understand what types of evidence can be included in a scoping review

Rationale and key points

Scoping reviews have become a popular approach for exploring what literature has been published on a particular field of interest. They can enable nurses to gain an overview of the contemporary evidence base relating to a practice area, treatment or specific patient demographic, for example. This article provides a concise guide for nurses planning to undertake a scoping review, explaining the various steps involved.

• Scoping reviews are classified as ‘big picture’ reviews used for knowledge synthesis, and their primary objective is to identify, review and clarify the breadth and nature of the evidence.

• A well-structured scoping review can be useful for determining the emerging evidence on a subject and may act as a useful precursor to a systematic review.

• Undertaking a scoping review involves identifying a focus, selecting the pertinent evidence, synthesising that evidence and reporting the findings.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help to update your practice and ensure it remains evidence-based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

• How this article might improve your practice when undertaking a scoping review.

• How you could use this information to educate nursing students and colleagues on the appropriate techniques and evidence base required for scoping the literature.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2024.e12348

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Harley J (2024) How to undertake a scoping review. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2024.e12348

Published online: 07 May 2024

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