In 2014, I enrolled as a PhD candidate within the discipline of Public Health with the aspiration of conducting research on young children’s health and wellbeing as they transition to school. Initial review of the literature on young children’s health and wellbeing highlighted two key aspects of the field: (a) there is no shared or agreed upon definition of child health and wellbeing or how to measure or assess it, and (b) the field of child health and wellbeing crosses distinct disciplinary lines, specifically with the fields of health and education. During the initial review of the literature, it was clear that the interdisciplinary nature of the field would pose significant challenges for a systematic review of the literature. Vast theoretical and methodological differences spanning the education and health divide in early childhood research would require a review strategy that was rigorous, yet flexible enough to meet the complexities of this field.
This case study provides an account of how the Critical Interpretive Synthesis method was used to complete a systematic review of literature spanning across the disciplines of health and education. Specific attention is given to clearly outline the processes and challenges of the systematic review of diverse literature and systematic review protocols. This case outlines the step-by-step process used to undertake a rigorous systematic review of literature using the Critical Interpretive Synthesis method, and reflects on important considerations and challenges that were encountered throughout the process.