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Northwell/ZSOM Scoping Review

Step by step guidance on conducting a scoping review.

Developing the Research Question

Research Question Frameworks

The scoping review question guides and directs the development of the specific inclusion criteria for the scoping review. Clarity of the review question assists in developing the protocol, facilitates effectiveness in the literature search, and provides a clear structure for the development of the scoping review. As with the title, the question should incorporate the PCC elements.  The PCC mnemonic stands for the Population/Participants, Concept, and Context. 

PCC (Population (or participants)/Concept/Context) framework is recommended by JBI to identify the main concepts in your primary review question. The framework will then inform your search strategy. 

Topic: Pediatric tonsillectomy quality of life assessment instruments

Element  Description  Example 
Population/ Participants 

"Important characteristics of participants, including age and other qualifying criteria" (11.2.4)


Pediatric tonsillectomy patients 
Concept The core concept examined by the scoping review should be clearly articulated to guide the scope and breadth of the inquiry. This may include details that pertain to elements that would be detailed in a standard systematic review, such as the "interventions" and/or "phenomena of interest" and/or "outcomes"" (11.2.4) Quality of life questionnaires
Context "The context should be clearly defined and may include, but is not limited to, consideration of cultural factors, such as geographic location and/or specific social, cultural, or gender-based interests. In some cases, context may also encompass details about the specific setting (such as acute care, primary health care or the community). Reviewers may choose to limit the context of their review to a particular country or health system or healthcare setting, depending on the topic and objectives."(11.2.4) Primary care and acute care settings in the united states. 

Primary review question:

  •  What quality of life questionnaires are available for pediatric patients following tonsillectomies with or without adenoidectomies for chronic infections or sleep disordered breathing in acute and primary care settings in the United states. 

PEO and Other Research Frameworks


  • The PEO question framework is useful for qualitative research topics, like scoping reviews. PEO questions identify three concepts: population, exposure, and outcome.
Element  Questions to think about  Example 
Population  Who is the population being affected? What are their symptoms, age, gender, etc. Infants between 6-9 months old 
Exposure What is the specific exposure? (i.e. witnessed a resuscitation, domestic violence) Exposure to micro-doses of common food allergies
Outcome  What is the element that you are looking at? Is there a theme? Reduce childhood food allergies 

Research Question: In infants between the age of 6 to 9 months (Population), is there an association between exposure to micro-doses of common food allergens (Exposure) and reduced childhood food allergies? (Outcome)

 Did you know there are at least 25 other question frameworks besides variations of PICO and PEO?  Frameworks like, SPIDER, SPICE, and ECLIPS can help you formulate a focused research question.

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