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Characteristics of published scoping reviews: A scoping review of scoping reviews

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Mai Pham

Contact person

Mai Pham
Abstract text
Background: Scoping reviews are a type of literature review that aims to provide an overview of the type, extent and quantity of research available on a topic. By ‘mapping’ the existing research, they can identify potential research gaps and future research needs. They employ systematic and transparent methods, and can thus be used as a standalone project or as a preliminary step to a systematic review. Objectives: The objective of this study is to describe the methodological characteristics and use of published scoping reviews, and the opportunities and challenges for their methodological standardization and wider use. Methods: A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey & O’Malley (2005) framework and ensuing recommendations by Levac et al. (2010). An initial search was conducted in four electronic databases and the grey literature to identify scoping reviews published up to June 2011. The search was updated in October 2012. Review selection and characterization were performed by two independent reviewers using pre-tested forms. Results: The initial search identified 182 scoping reviews published from 1999–June 2011. 162 additional reviews were identified in the updated search. The included reviews varied in terms of purpose, methodological rigor, and quality of reporting. A range of terms were used to refer to the methodology, with “scoping review” being the most frequently reported (62%). 58% were conducted in the health sector. Study implementation varied from 2 weeks to 20 months, and 51% utilized a published methodological framework. Quality assessment of included studies was infrequently performed (22.38%). 40% consulted stakeholders or experts as part of the review process. Conclusions: Scoping reviews are a relatively new synthesis approach that can be useful for mapping broad public health topics. Due to variability in their conduct, there is a need for their methodological standardization to ensure the utility and strength of its evidence.