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Systematic Review

Resources for conducting a systematic review research.

Developing a Research Question

A sequence of а funnel, a circle full of questions and a single big question mark. A sign above this sequence says, "Narrow topic, Think of questions, and Focus question."

Image: PressBooks 

 

 

The process for developing a research question

There are many ways of framing questions depending on the topic, discipline, or type of questions.

Several frameworks are listed in the table below.

Source:

Foster, M. & Jewell, S. (Eds). (2017). Assembling the pieces of a systematic review: Guide for librarians. Medical Library Association, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 38, Table 3.

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Watch the 4 min. video on how to frame a research question with PICO.

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Frameworks for research questions

Framework Stands for Source Discipline/type of question
BeHEMoTh Be: behavior of interest
H: health contest (service/policy/intervention)
E: exclusions
MoTh: models or theories
Booth, A., & Carroll, C. (2015). Systematic searching for theory to inform systematic reviews: Is it feasible? Is it desirable? Health Information and Libraries Journal, 32(3), 220–235. https://doi.org/10.1111/hir.12108
 
Questions about theories
CHIP Context
How
Issues
Population
Shaw, R. (2010). Conducting literature reviews. In M. A. Forester (Ed.), Doing Qualitative Research in Psychology: A Practical Guide (pp. 39-52). London, Sage.
 
Psychology, qualitative
CIMO Context
Intervention
Mechanisms
Outcomes
Denyer, D., & Tranfield, D. (2009). Producing a systematic review. In D. A. Buchanan & A. Bryman (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational research methods (pp. 671-689). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.
Management, business, administration
CLIP Client group
Location of provided service
Improvement/Information/Innovation
Professionals (who provides the service?)
Wildridge, V., & Bell, L. (2002). How CLIP became ECLIPSE: A mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 19(2), 113–115. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1471-1842.2002.00378.x
 
Librarianship, management, policy
COPES Client-Oriented
Practical
Evidence
Search
Gibbs, L. (2003). Evidence-based practice for the helping professions: A practical guide with integrated multimedia. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning. Social work, health care, nursing
ECLIPSE Expectation
Client
Location
Impact
Professionals
Service
Wildridge, V., & Bell, L. (2002). How CLIP became ECLIPSE: A mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 19(2), 113–115. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1471-1842.2002.00378.x Management, services, policy, social care
PEO Population
Exposure
Outcome
Khan, K. S., Kunz, R., Kleijnen, J., & Antes, G. (2003). Systematic reviews to support evidence-based medicine: How to review and apply findings of healthcare research. London: Royal Society of Medicine Press. Qualitative
PECODR Patient/population/problem
Exposure
Comparison
Outcome
Duration
Results
Dawes, M., Pluye, P., Shea, L., Grad, R., Greenberg, A., & Nie, J.-Y. (2007). The identification of clinically important elements within medical journal abstracts: Patient_Population_Problem, Exposure_Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, Duration and Results (PECODR). Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics, 15(1), 9–16.
 
Medicine
PerSPECTiF

Perspective
Setting
Phenomenon of interest/Problem
Environment
Comparison (optional)
Time/Timing
Findings

Booth, A., Noyes, J., Flemming, K., Moore, G., Tunçalp, Ö., & Shakibazadeh, E. (2019). Formulating questions to explore complex interventions within qualitative evidence synthesis. BMJ Global Health, 4(Suppl 1). Qualitative research
PESICO Person
Environments
Stakeholders
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome
Schlosser, R. W., & O'Neil-Pirozzi, T. (2006). Problem formulation in evidence-based practice and systematic reviewsContemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, 33, 5-10. Augmentative and alternative communication
PICO Patient
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome
Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: A key to evidence-based decisionsACP journal club, 123(3), A12-A12. Clinical medicine
PICO+

Patient
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome

+context, patient values, and preferences

Bennett, S., & Bennett, J. W. (2000). The process of evidence‐based practice in occupational therapy: Informing clinical decisionsAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal, 47(4), 171-180. Occupational therapy
PICOC

Patient
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome

Context

Petticrew, M., & Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.  Social Sciences
PICOS

Patient
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome

Study Type

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., Altman, D. G., & Prisma Group. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS medicine, 6(7), e1000097. Medicine
PICOT

Patient
Intervention
Comparison
Outcome

Time

Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: A key to evidence-based decisionsACP journal club, 123(3), A12-A12. Education, health care
PICO specific to diagnostic tests Patient/participants/population
Index tests
Comparator/reference tests
Outcome
Kim, K. W., Lee, J., Choi, S. H., Huh, J., & Park, S. H. (2015). Systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating diagnostic test accuracy: A practical review for clinical researchers - Part I. General guidance and tips. Korean Journal of Radiology, 16(6), 1175-1187. Diagnostic questions
PIPOH Population
Intervention
Professionals
Outcomes
Health care setting/context
ADAPTE Collaboration. (2009). The ADAPTE Process: Resource Toolkit for guideline adaptation. Version 2.0. Available from http://www.g-i-n.net Screening
ProPheT Problem
Phenomenon of interest
Time

Booth, A., Noyes, J., Flemming, K., Gerhardus, A., Wahlster, P., van der Wilt, G. J., ... & Rehfuess, E. (2016). Guidance on choosing qualitative evidence synthesis methods for use in health technology assessments of complex interventions. [Technical Report]. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.2318.0562

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Booth, A., Sutton, A., & Papaioannou, D. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review (2. ed.). London: Sage.

Social sciences, qualitative, library science
SPICE Setting
Perspective
Interest
Comparison
Evaluation
Booth, A. (2006). Clear and present questions: formulating questions for evidence based practiceLibrary Hi Tech, 24(3), 355-368. Library and information sciences
SPIDER Sample
Phenomenon of interest
Design
Evaluation
Research type
Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative health research, 22(10), 1435-1443. Health, qualitative research
WWH Who
What
How

What was done? (intervention, exposure, policy, phenomenon)

How does the what affect the who?

 

Further reading:

Methley, A. M., Campbell, S., Chew-Graham, C., McNally, R., & Cheraghi-Sohi, S. (2014). PICO, PICOS and SPIDER: A comparison study of specificity and sensitivity in three search tools for qualitative systematic reviews. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), 579.