Please carry out a literature review which is systematic and transparent on a topic that is relevant to the course you are studying (infection control or public health). The word count for this assignment is 2,500 words. It is important in public health and infection control to be systematic and transparent in relation to how practitioners and researchers search for the literature that they use to inform their research or practice. Narrative reviews, whilst helpful, can be problematic in that it is not always clear what was left out of the literature review process. Literature reviews which take a systematic approach are preferred as the reader can explore how the authors of the literature review carried out their review. This helps the reader make a judgement on how thorough the review was and whether the inclusion and exclusion criteria, for example, were very narrow and thus literature could have been missed out. Literature reviews which are systematic also enable the reader to assess how far the methodological quality of the papers were taken into account when reviewing the literature. After all, not all papers that are published are necessarily the best evidence available and it can be problematic to base practice and interventions on weak evidence.
You are required to structure your literature review as follows using the following sub-headings:
1. Introduction and definition of the objective of review
Define literature review and critically link to the nature of evidence in health and social care research.
Introduce the chosen topic. Present a clear literature review question using PICO.
2. Inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies to be considered in the literature review
This section should include a description of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the studies (including the PICO elements). The inclusion and exclusion criteria section should also include the research method, methodological quality, sample size, language of publication, and date of research. Students should tailor their inclusion/exclusion criteria to ensure they are left with a manageable number of studies to include in their review.
Examples of potential exclusion criteria which could be used to limit the amount of studies included in the literature review: studies from a specific time period/ those in English/ conducted in a specific country/only include those studies at the top of the hierarchy of evidence and so on. Ideally you should not have more than 10 studies in this literature review given the time that is available to you and the amount of words that you have available. Think of this assignment as practising the skills to carry out a literature review that is systematic and transparent.
3. Identifying relevant studies Having set a clear aim and inclusion and exclusion criteria, the next step is to search the literature and identify relevant studies. The process for identifying studies needs to be carefully outlined in detail so that someone could repeat the procedure. Please use a flowchart to document your search such as PRISMA and a table to outline your search strategy with search engines searched, key words, dates and so on.
4. Assessment of methodological quality You should use a critical appraisal tool such as KMET or CASP to assess methodological quality. You are required to evidence an overview of your critical analysis in this section within the main body of text and comment upon the quality of the papers included in your review. It may be worthwhile here having a table which you put into the appendix which outlines the main quality criteria for the papers in table form (appendix 1). You can then refer to this appendix in this section in the main text.
5. Extracting data and summarising results This involves retrieving the relevant statistical or qualitative thematic information from studies and summarising it. This must be carried out in a systematic way using a pro-forma/diagram to aid the process. The pro-forma could have the following columns: Column one – full reference for the paper Column two – RQ or aim of the paper Column three – methods, sample/setting/recruitment and analysis undertaken for the paper Column four – main results or findings or themes as well as any statistical results Each paper would be reviewed in a separate row according to the columns of the table. Please provide a copy of the completed pro-forma/diagram in the appendix (Appendix 2). Once you have completed the pro-forma you can then look at the main findings or results and develop them into themes. So, for example, you may find that different studies have the same findings around a particular area. So, you may be looking at obesity and public health and find that the studies have identified that low income communities in the US, Canada and the UK are more likely to have higher rates of obesity. You could then discuss this in this section and relate to the particular studies and their findings. So, the theme would be obesity and low income. Another theme could be lack of access to quality food and obesity and so on.
6. Conclusion Please provide a conclusion summarising your findings. Ensure you link your conclusion back to your objectives of the review. Include implications for future practice and further research. Discuss the limitations of your study: for example, you could consider financial and time limitations. You could then discuss ways in which these limitations could be overcome if you were to carry out further research in the area. Learning Outcomes Be able to critically appraise research papers, undertake a literature review and critically explore what is meant by evidence in health and social care research