Narrative reviews are an umbrella term for a collection of reviews that offer the opportunity to undertake an extensive description and interpretation of previously published literature. Narrative reviews are flexible yet rigorous and have five elements that are consistent across most sub-types. Reflexivity is an important component of narrative reviews, which provides readers with clear insight into how the researcher's perspectives and experiences informed interpretation.
Not sure this is the right review type to answer your research question(s)?
Click Review Typology to help you decide.
STRENGTHS + WEAKNESSES
Flexible yet rigorous approach for knowledge synthesis, which is useful to many educators and researchers
Helpful for teaching or learning about a topic because they deliver a general overview
Useful for setting the stage for future research, as they offer an interpretation of the literature, note gaps, and critique research to date
Are not often reproducible related to the influence of the authors and setting on screening, sampling, and analysis
Do not include an exhaustive search of all possible evidence on a given topic
They are selective, which may make them harder to critically appraise against strict criteria. Researchers can address this potential shortcoming by being thoughtful, purposive, and transparent about the choices they make throughout the review process, as well as being explicit in their justifications for these choices
Supporting Documents to Download
Green BN, Johnson CD, Adams A. Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: secrets of the trade. J Chiropr Med. 2006;5(3):101-117. doi:10.1016/S0899-3467(07)60142-6
Gregory AT, Denniss AR. An introduction to writing narrative and systematic reviews—tasks, tips and traps for aspiring authors. Heart Lung Circ. 2018;27(7):893-898. doi:10.1016/j.hlc.2018.03.027
Murphy CM. Writing an effective review article. J Med Toxicol. 2012;8(2):89-90. doi:10.1007/s13181-012-0234-2
EXAMPLES OF NARRATIVE REVIEWS
JAVEED SUKHERA, MD PHD
Javeed Sukhera, MD PhD, is the Chair of Psychiatry at the Institute of Living and Chief of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital in Hartford Connecticut where he has (pending) academic affiliations with Yale University and the University of Connecticut. He is an MD/PhD Scientist in Health Professions Education and researches novel approaches to addressing stigma and bias in healthcare.