A literature review is a critical step when conducting research.


A literature review is a critical step when conducting research. Gray et al. (2017) describe the purpose of a literature review as discovering the most recent and relevant information about the topic at hand. It is an organization of all research findings, theories, and knowledge on a given topic. Often, a literature review will expose gaps in the current knowledge base. 

Neill (2017) outlines the steps to take when conducting a literature review for a research topic. Initially, a research question must be established. Next, discover what other articles have been written about the question. Proceed with this step by searching for current (within five years) journal articles through engine databases by entering keywords regarding the research question. Every article that is included should serve a purpose and be relevant. Document the steps taken to find the articles so the work is replicable. After gathering related articles, analyze each of them through judicious evaluation. Finally, it is time to write the literature review itself; compile the review in a systematic manner with relevant sections to recognize trends. 

Regarding my current research, I plan to approach writing a literature review systematically. In other words, take one step at a time. Through multiple databases, I found the relevant articles used in research regarding my chosen topic. Using the keywords “mindfulness-based stress reduction”, “nursing”, and “chronic pain”, I discovered several appropriate studies. I plan to incorporate Neill’s (2017) idea of asking questions of each article to determine relatability. Some of these questions include: what problem is the author presenting, is the problem relevant, what are the article’s strengths or weaknesses, what gaps in knowledge were identified for future study, and how does the article contribute to the knowledge base? 

Aside from nursing literature, medical literature, in general, is helpful in research. With the topic of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) contributing to the alleviation of chronic pain, interviews or articles with MBSR practitioners are also useful. 

Research from George et al. (2015) supports my topic of the effectiveness of MBSR with patients with chronic pain. Individuals living with HIV/AIDS commonly experience varying chronic pain levels, but there are few studies of nonpharmacologic interventions with this population. This study examined the effects of MBSR versus health education control with 32 HIV-positive participants. Three months post study, 79% of the MBSR group continued practicing the interventions and stated their pain intensity had improved. Pain intensity for the control group has worsened. 

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