Reflective accounts

Reflective account – systematic reviews

A CPD article improved Efstratios Athanasakis’s knowledge of how to conduct a systematic literature review

A CPD article improved Efstratios Athanasakis’s knowledge of how to conduct a systematic literature review

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The CPD article discussed the purpose of systematic reviews in nursing practice. It outlined the process of undertaking a systematic review, and how this can benefit future research and clinical practice.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

I found the CPD article on systematic reviews valuable because it emphasised the importance of systematic reviews in the development of nursing practice.

Nurses are expected to promote and deliver care that is based on research and supported by evidence. Systematic literature reviews can be used to recognise appropriate evidence and develop guidelines to inform practice, which in turn enables safe, high quality nursing care.

The article outlined the four stages of the systematic review process. The first stage is problem identification, which involves generating a robust research question with a clear focus on what the research aims to achieve. The article discussed the use of the PICO tool, which can assist in formulating a research question in a systematic review.

The second stage is to undertake a literature search using appropriate keywords to locate the most relevant literature for answering the research question. Once a final list of articles has been selected for review, the next stage is literature appraisal. This involves examining and classifying the articles and looking for themes. The final stage is presentation, in which the findings of the literature review are presented, discussed and evaluated. Recommendations are made for further research and clinical practice.

How did you change or improve your practice?

As a master’s student in research methods in healthcare, I am learning about the different types and techniques used in health research.

Reading the CPD article has provided further insights into the process of undertaking a systematic review, with particular reference to nursing. I have also started to evaluate my published review papers.

I plan to undertake a systematic review based on the stages outlined in the CPD article. I intend to use the PICO tool to define the research question, which will concern the effect of educational interventions on the rate of medication errors made by nurses in emergency departments.

I plan to search three healthcare databases using appropriate keywords, then use a data extraction sheet to appraise and examine the articles found. Finally, I will present my findings in a manner that is clear and structured.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

One theme of the Code is to practise effectively, which involves practising in line with the best evidence.

A systematic review may help nurses maintain the knowledge and skills necessary for safe, effective practice. Nurses should be able to appraise and use research, with the aim of improving care and creating evidence to inform practice.

Undertaking a systematic literature review can also improve patient safety, ensuring care is high quality and based on the best evidence available.

Efstratios Athanasakis is a student at the University of Nottingham


This reflective account is based on NS808 Pryce-Miller M (2015) Using systematic reviews to inform nursing practice. Nursing Standard. 29, 52, 52-58. The questions are the same as those on the NMC templates that UK nurses and midwives must use for revalidation.

Write your own reflective account

You can gain a certificate of learning by reading a Nursing Standard CPD article and writing a reflective account. To write a reflective account for Nursing Standard, use the NMC reflective accounts form 

Complete the four questions about the CPD article you have just read, writing about 800 words in total. Details of how to submit your reflective account are available here

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