This paper describes the methods, strategies and technologies used to conduct a scoping literature review examining primary care (PC) and public health (PH) collaboration. It presents challenges encountered as well as recommendations and ‘lessons learned’ from conducting the review with a large geographically distributed team comprised of researchers and decision-makers using an integrated knowledge translation approach.
Scoping studies comprehensively map literature in a specific area guided by general research questions. This methodology is especially useful in researching complex topics. Thus, their popularity is growing. Stakeholder consultations are an important strategy to enhance study results. Therefore, information about how best to involve stakeholders throughout the process is necessary to improve quality and uptake of reviews.
This review followed Arksey and O'Malley's five stages: identifying research questions; identifying relevant studies; study selection; charting the data; and collating, summarizing and reporting results. Technological tools and strategies included: citation management software (Reference Manager®), qualitative data analysis software (NVivo 8), web conferencing (Elluminate Live!) and a PH portal (eHealthOntario), teleconferences, email and face-to-face meetings.
Of 6125 papers identified, 114 were retained as relevant. Most papers originated in the United Kingdom (38%), the United States (34%) and Canada (19%). Of 80 papers that reported on specific collaborations, most were descriptive reports (51.3%). Research studies represented 34 papers: 31% were program evaluations, 9% were literature reviews and 9% were discussion papers. Key strategies to ensure rigor in conducting a scoping literature review while engaging a large geographically dispersed team are presented for each stage. The use of enabling technologies was essential to managing the process. Leadership in championing the use of technologies and a clear governance structure were necessary for their successful uptake.
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