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Integrative Review

A guide introducing the process of conducting an integrative review

Integrative Review

The Integrative Review


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. Duquesne researchers have published a number of integrative reviews, as shown in this EBSCO search.

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

Things to Consider

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.
  • Librarians are often consulted for the development of a comprehensive search strategy--request assistance from Gumberg librarians using the Systematic Review Librarian request form.
  • Develop the research question for the integrative review
    • This article by Munn et al (2018) describes question development frameworks for systematic reviews, though the question development frameworks should be adapted to work with 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 checklist and flow diagram to document the review process.
  • As you plan your review, check prospective journals’ instructions for authors to see if they have guidelines for integrative reviews.
  • Before you get started, take a look at Toronto & Remington's Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Integrative Review.