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Am J Nurs. 2014 Apr;114(4):53-6. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000445689.67800.86.

Developing the review question and inclusion criteria.

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Cindy Stern is a senior research fellow in communication science at the Joanna Briggs Institute in Adelaide, South Australia, where Zoe Jordan is the acting executive director and Alexa McArthur is a senior research fellow. Stern is also the coordinator of the Cochrane Nursing Care Field, one of 12 fields within the Cochrane Collaboration supporting systematic reviews. Contact author: Cindy Stern, The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise. The Joanna Briggs Institute aims to inform health care decision making globally through the use of research evidence. It has developed innovative methods for appraising and synthesizing evidence; facilitating the transfer of evidence to health systems, health care professionals, and consumers; and creating tools to evaluate the impact of research on outcomes. For more on the institute's approach to weighing the evidence for practice, go to


This article is the second in a new series on the systematic review from the Joanna Briggs Institute, an international collaborative supporting evidence-based practice in nursing, medicine, and allied health fields. The purpose of the series is to show nurses how to conduct a systematic review-one step at a time. This article details the process of articulating a review question to guide the search for relevant studies and discusses how to define inclusion criteria for the study-selection phase of the review.

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