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Table 2 Summary of key processes in critical interpretive synthesis

From: Opportunities, challenges and concerns for the implementation and uptake of pelvic floor muscle assessment and exercises during the childbearing years: protocol for a critical interpretive synthesis

Reflexivity Constant reflexivity on the part of the review authors is essential to the critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) process, to ensure thorough searching and selection processes and generation of theory which is critically informed and credible in light of the evidence available
Review question A review question should be proposed but left open to adjustment over the course of the research
Literature searching The initial search strategy should be broad to identify potentially relevant papers close to the topic of interest.
Searching, sampling, critique and analysis occur simultaneously
Purposive sampling Purposive sampling of potentially relevant material is used to identify material which may fall outside of the initial search boundaries
Data extraction Data extraction may be guided by formal data extraction procedures, but this is not essential for the CIS approach
Quality appraisal Appraisal of the evidence aims to prioritise relevance and theoretical contribution to the review objectives, through critical interrogation of the evidence. Formal methodological quality appraisal of individual studies may be appropriate, but papers are not usually excluded on the basis of quality alone
Data analysis Analysis aims to generate a synthesising argument or conceptual framework. This is developed through a critically informed synthesis of evidence included in the review. The framework should illustrate connections and relationships between new (synthetic) and existing constructs identified in the literature. The developing conceptual framework guides further selection of potentially relevant literature