NURS 8114 Investigating a Critical Practice Question Through a Literature Review

NURS 8114 Investigating a Critical Practice Question Through a Literature Review

NURS 8114 Investigating a Critical Practice Question Through a Literature Review

This week we are discussing our literature searches. The first step with conducting a literature search is refining the EBP question. To develop the EBP question, you must clearly define the practice problem and utilizing the PICO format to formulate your EBP question (Dang & Dearholt, 2021). Last week we refined our Evidence Based Practice question. My question went from a combined double question and was narrowed down to a more specific question: What evidence-based interventions have emerged in the literature in the last 10 years for reducing nurse burnout?  Refining your EBP practice question is essential to ensure you have the appropriate key words for your literature search.

As we discussed at the beginning of this course, time management, planning, and organization are all foundational to successfully completing a Doctorate degree. Literature searches take time. Blocking times to work on literature searches (and assignments) assists with completing these in a timely fashion.

Streamlining literature searches can be achieved through bookmarking the Walden Library Academic Guide page. This ensures you can readily access the library resources with a simple click of the mouse and are not wasting precious time trying to locate the landing page for the library repeatedly.

Although some resources are foundational, most of the literature should be within the past 5 years. Selecting the date range when searching from 2017 to 2021 and selecting peer reviewed articles can help to narrow down the results to the most relevant.

Understanding the differences in the types of articles you are pulling is also important. Primary and Secondary sources are different types of literature. Primary sources are the original research. Secondary sources are literature searches such as what we are conducting on our EBP practice questions to conduct a literature review (Walden University Library, n.d.-b).

When conducting a literature search, it is imperative to understand the differences in databases you are searching.

NURS 8114 Investigating a Critical Practice Question Through a Literature Review
NURS 8114 Investigating a Critical Practice Question Through a Literature Review

For example, I commonly utilize the Thoreau Multi-Database Search. This search tool is not all inclusive, but it does help to quickly review several of the databases for relevant resources (Walden University Library, n.d.-a). There are approximately 15 different quality EBP databases that can be found in the Walden Library Databases which are specific for Nursing. These include ProQuest, CINAHL, Medline and Ovid Nursing Journals to name a few (Walden University Library, n.d.-a). In addition to these, The Cochrane Library and Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) are also reliable EBP databases (Dang & Dearholt, 2017).

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Keeping a record of the searches in Microsoft Word or in the database such as PubMed can save time and prevent duplication (Dang & Dearholt, 2017). Obtaining the full text is the next step in reviewing the literature and these can often be acquired through the Walden University Library free of charge.

When conducting a literature search, I sometimes have difficulty with selecting the most appropriate search term.  Sometimes I put in a search term that is too specific or detailed and this results in an empty search. Additionally, using a search term that is too broad can also cause too many results and make it difficult to find the appropriate resources. For example, if I just put in nurse burnout into the search, I am likely to find thousands of results. Using a Boolean phrase (also called a Boolean operator) such as AND, OR, and NOT can be beneficial to narrow topics or expand your literature search (Dang & Dearholt, 2017).

Google Scholar is a free resource that may be helpful and can be linked to our Walden University Library. Dang and Dearholt (2017) caution using Google Scholar as the sole research as journals may not be indexed and searches can vary daily, making replication difficult (Dang & Dearholt, 2017).



Dang, D., & Dearholt, S. L. (Eds.). (2018). Johns Hopkins nursing evidence-based  practice: Model and guidelines (3rd ed.). Sigma Theta Tau International. Chapter 5, “Searching for Evidence” (pp. 79–96)

Walden University Library. (n.d.-a). Databases A–Z: Nursing.

Walden University Library. (n.d.-b). Evaluating resources: Primary & secondary sources.

My literature search is an organized method used to locate already published data to identify a range of good quality references on a specific topic. The reasons for me performing a literature search is to draw information for making evidence-based guidelines. This is my research method and academic assessment. My literature search helps me formulate my research question by evaluating the literature. My literature search is done to locate the appropriate method and design of the study.  Performing a literature search helps me determine population sampled, sampling methods, methods of measuring concepts and techniques of analysis. It also helps me determine variables affecting the outcome and identifying faults that could be avoided.

What working for me is utilizing the Walden University Library. There is endless information available for one to review. There are multiple tips that will fit any research idea. There is numerous way to receive help with research, project formulation, project ideas, writing papers, and review of your information. Walden University provide the help needed when you have questions and when you need guidance.


Search Based Questions

Scholars recommend using a systematic method of conducting a literature search (Littlewood & Kloukos, 2019). This paper describes the use of the 15-step process recommended by Bramer et al. (2018). This 15-step process has ensured relevant, recent, and scholarly articles.

In line with the framework provided by Bramer et al. (2018), the first step of conducting the literature search entailed determining a clear and focused question. The clinical question of interest is the impact of Hand Hygiene on Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). The second step featured describing the articles that could answer the question (Bramer et al., 2018). The focus of the literature search was on systematic reviews and random controlled studies published in the last 5 years. Equally important was describing the key concepts addressing different elements of the question (Bramer et al., 2018). This step focused on hand hygiene practices in healthcare settings. The desired outcome, on the other hand, was the occurrence, prevalence, and incidence of healthcare-associated infections. Closely related was deciding the elements to use for best results (Bramer et al., 2018). This step focused on hand hygiene and healthcare-associated infections. Focusing on the two elements prevented bias and overlapping elements (Bramer et al., 2018). This step was followed by choosing an appropriate database (Bramer et al., 2018). The database that was chosen to start with is EBSCOhost. The search process was then documented in a log document to make the search accountable and reproducible (Bramer et al., 2018). Equally important was the process of identifying appropriate index terms in the database (Bramer et al., 2018).

The focus here was on infection control, healthcare-associated infections, and preventing healthcare-associated infections. The next step focused on identifying synonyms (Bramer et al., 2018). For hand hygiene, the search also focused on handwashing. For healthcare-associated infections, on the other hand, the focus was also on healthcare-acquired infections, hospital-acquired infections, and hospital-associated infections. The next step entailed adding truncations, spelling differences, and abbreviations (Bramer et al., 2018). The search process, therefore, also included hyphens and abbreviations: HAIs, HH, hand-washing, hand washing, hospital acquired infections, health-care associated infections, and healthcare acquired infections. Equally important was adding Boolean operators and parentheses such as AND and OR. The search was then optimized using the aforementioned criterion. This step was followed by an evaluation of initial results (Bramer et al., 2018). This step entailed increasing sensitivity and specificity by deleting less relevant terms, adding new terms, and broadening proximity. These were the main issues of concern when conducting the literature search. Additional focus was on checking for any errors, including confirming the date of publishing and availability. This process was then replicated in the MEDLINE and Cochrane databases. It is worth noting that Goossen et al. (2020) recommend combining databases to ensure a broader picture of evidence.

In conclusion, scholars recommend applying a systematic process of conducting a literature search. The stepwise process recommended by Bramer et al. (2018) is fast, exhaustive, precise, and systematic. This approach is especially ideal for answering clinical questions.



Bramer, W., Jonge, G., Rethlefsen, M., Mast, F., & Kleijnen, J. (2018). A systematic approach to searching: An efficient and complete method to develop literature searches. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 106(4), 531-541.

Goossen, K., Hess, S., Lunny, C., & Pieper, D. (2020). Database combinations to retrieve systematic reviews in overviews of reviews: A methodological study. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20, 1-15.

Littlewood, A., & Kloukos, D. (2019). Searching the literature for studies for a systematic review. Part 2: Resources for searching the medical literature. Statistics and Research Design, 155(3), 445-447.