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Integrative Review

A guide introducing the process of conducting an integrative review

Integrative Reviews

What is an Integrative Review?

"An integrative review...summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem (Broome 1993). Integrative reviews, thus, have the potential to build nursing science, informing research, practice, and policy initiatives. The integrative review method...allows for the inclusion of diverse methodologies (i.e. experimental and non-experimental research)" (Whittemore and Knafl, 2005).

Integrative reviews are used primarily in nursing research, though other health sciences disciplines like occupational therapy and public health have published integrative reviews as well.

Researchers are publishing integrative reviews at an increasing rate. A CINAHL search found 300 integrative reviews published by 2010 while 2298 were published by 2019.

Other names for integrative reviews include IR, Integrative Literature Review, Systematic Integrative Review.

Things to Consider Before Starting an Integrative Review

  • The timeframe for a integrative review is not short - integrative reviews typically take 12 or more months.
  • You can work with librarians for help in developing a search strategy!
  • Develop the research question for the integrative review
    • There are several question development frameworks for systematic reviews (Munn et al, 2018) - but these frameworks should be adapted for integrative review questions.
  • The combination and complexity of incorporating diverse methodologies can contribute to lack of rigor, inaccuracy, and bias.
  • Methods of analysis, synthesis, and conclusion-drawing are not well defined for integrative reviews.
    • Whittemore and Knafl (2005) make suggestions to address drawbacks and inconsistencies related to combining empirical and theoretical reports.
  • Integrative reviews do not have a clear reporting standard, but many journals which accept integrative reviews suggest using the PRISMA 2020 checklist and flow diagram to document the review process.
    • As you plan your review, also check prospective journals’ author instructions to see if they have guidelines for integrative reviews.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Integrative Review

The text below provides helpful instructions on how to get started with doing an integrative review.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Integrative Review