Directed Study

Course Number: HE900

Subject: Health Sciences

About this guide

This guide was created for the HE900 scoping review team. It provides a project outline and resources for doing a scoping review.

Rationale for scoping review

There is expressed interest from caregivers involved in a Waterloo Region support group for more information about the transition from youth to adulthood for individuals living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). A comprehensive scoping review will be valuable to caregivers, community organizations, people living with FASD, and other stakeholders who are involved in planning for successful and sustainable living, working and social networking arrangements of people living with FASD.

Scoping review resources

What is a scoping review?

Doing a scoping review is all about putting together replicable, rigiorous, and transparent methods for finding and synthesizing research literature about a specific topic or question. So, it's about more than simply finding sources. Instead, it's about having a comprehensive search strategy.

Like any scientific study, you need to account for how you got your results in a scoping review. How do you know you didn't miss any sources that would influence your observations of existing research literature?

Check out the JBI Reviewer's Manual for Scoping Reviews to get a more comprehensive overview (specifically, chapter 11.1.1).

Developing a scoping review

YouTube videos

Systematic reviews about FASD

Search strategy

PCC template

The PCC template helps you define your topic.

(P)opulation FASD
(C)oncept Planning materials, education, mental health modules, community planning, etc.
(C)ontext The transition from childhood to adulthood

Websites and Training on Searching

Databases to search

Examples of search strategies from FASD literature

PubMed search hedge for FASD

A hedge is a pre-made strategy that you can cut and paste into a database search box.

(("fetal alcohol spectrum disorders"[mesh]) or (fetal alcohol spectrum[text word]) or (foetale alcohol spectrum[text word]) or (fetal alcohol syndrome[text word]) or (foetale alcohol syndrome[text word]) or (fetal alcohol effect*[text word]) or (alcohol related birth defect*[text word]) or (alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorder*[text word]) or (neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure[text word]) or (partial fas[title/abstract]) or (partial fasd[title/abstract]) or (prenatal alcohol exposure[title/abstract]) or (fasd[text word]) or (fasd[title/abstract]) or (foetale alcohol spectrum disorder[text word]) or (foetale alcohol effect[text word]))

6,130 Results

Filters for Human and English = 3,535 Results

Other MESH terms

Other subject terms

Grey literature search strategy

Scoping review protocol

  • Grey literature: government, health funders, and other organization that might include studies/evaluations of programs aimed at parents, youth/adults with FASD, etc. – as WR FASD Action Group.
    • Include CanFASD website, CanFASD research leads, PHAC contacts, Dorothy Badry, ask about more networks.


  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the Criminal Justice System: A Systematic Literature Review
    • 3.1. Eligibility criteria: Our preliminary review identified articles that included: 1. human research related to FASD or PAE, and 2. research related to formal criminal justice system involvement. Articles were excluded if they focused on the criminalization of drinking during pregnancy, family law, or child welfare/custody. Articles related to delinquent behaviour rather than formal justice involvement were also excluded. Articles were then reviewed in more detail to determine whether they: 3. had undergone formal academic peer review, and 4. offered new empirical data to the state of the evidence. At this second level of review, we excluded evaluation reports, conference proceedings, case law, grey literature, dissertations and theses, book reviews, commentaries, and editorials.
  • "Transition of Care for Adolescents from Paediatric Services to Adult Health Services"
    • Contacted content experts to identify unpublished or ongoing work and searched websites of relevant professional bodies, including the Royal College of Nursing, American Academy of Paediatrics, and the Royal College of Paediatrics.
  • Systematic Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Interventions Across the Life Span
    • Forty FASD organizations were identified and webpages searched to locate non-peer-reviewed intervention trials that could be included (see Supporting Information for a complete list).

Search methods for grey literature

  1. Grey literature databases
  2. Search engines
  3. Targeted websites
  4. Consult with experts

Search documentation (Excel)

  • When – document the date of the search
  • Where – document the specific database, search engine, website searched
  • Search strategy – document exactly how you searched
  • Findings – document the number of results

Search documentation (PRISMA)

Additional considerations

  • Screening without abstracts
  • Uploading to citation management software

Text mining tools

Reference management