The following table outlines the elements to look at and record when evaluating the literature you have retrieved. You can use a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your evaluations or you can use Zotero.
Elements from: Cronin, C., Ryan F. & Coughlin, M. (2008) Undertaking a literature review: a step by step approach. British Journal of Nursing, 17(1) 38-43.
You may want to use Excel to organize your literature. The Excel file is an example of one way you can organize the criteria you have identified in order to assist with synthesis.
The following excerpt from the article Assessment and management of acute pain in older people: barriers and facilitators to nursing practice in Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, demonstrates a synthesis of the literature by the author.
A culture of reluctance to give strong analgesia to older patients was identified; this may be reflective of societal fears and attitudes around opioids (Rupp and Delaney 2004). Whilst older patients are more susceptible to the adverse effects of opioids, the chances of addiction and misuse are usually low (American Geriatric Society 2009). Hence such misconceptions and knowledge deficits held by some health professionals need to be addressed for optimal pain relief to be achieved (Horgas et al 2012).
Findings indicate that nurses may be limited by inadequate prescriptions for analgesia (Coker et al 2010; Brown and McCormack 2006). However Herr and Titler (2009) found that even when opioids were charted, they were often not administered by nurses. More effective collaboration between nursing and medical staff is recommended to ensure timely prescriptions as well as the safe and effective utilisation of analgesia (Herr and Titler 2009).
High nurse workloads, time pressures, staffing issues, distractions and interruptions can all impact upon the nurse’s ability to manage pain (Campbell 2013). A potential problem with this is that nurses may be more regimented in their approach and assess patients in a routine manner (Stein-Parbury 2013). Both organisations and individual nurses should promote individualised care rather than ritualistic practice; however when time is short, this can be difficult to achieve (Campbell 2013).