Practical Guidance in the Conduct of a Scoping Review: Insights from Experience in the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila

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Objective. We aimed to provide practical guidance on the scoping review process, building on the methodologies and general steps outlined by Arksey and O’Malley, Levac et al. and The Joanna Briggs Institute.

Methods. We reviewed the methodologies of three scoping studies conducted by the authors in the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila between 2016 and 2017. For each project, we outlined the steps, tools utilized, good practices performed, challenges encountered, and recommendations for improving the scoping review process in relation to existing guidelines. We compared the similarities and differences across the three reviews and guidelines to come up with a list of good practices and recommendations.

Results. We propose an expanded 10-step and iterative framework based on our analysis of three scoping studies:

  1. Define your research question; 2. Specify your research statement according to population, concept, and context;
  2. Prepare the necessary tools, forms, and software packages; 4. Assemble your expert panel and/or consultants;
  3. Develop your search strategy; 6. Implement the search strategy and retrieve identified studies; 7. Screen and assess studies for inclusion in the scoping review; 8. Chart the data; 9. Synthesize your results; and 10. Prepare your final report.

Conclusion. Scoping reviews as a method of evidence synthesis are increasingly gaining popularity among researchers due to the scope of what can be reviewed in a relatively short amount of time. With only three scoping studies informing our proposed methodology, other issues and challenges in the conduct of a scoping review may have been missed in the expanded framework presented in this paper. We suggest future studies to apply existing scoping review methodologies, to further enhance this rapidly evolving framework in research, policy, and practice.