What is the process for critical appraisal of research studies?

Critical appraisal enables you to assess a study's usefulness and if it is trustworthy. One can use the various checklists available to test a study by its type - Diagnosis, Harm, Prognosis, and Therapy, and/or by a research design from the Levels of Clinical Evidence Pyramid: case report, case control study, cohort studies, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews.  Be sure and use what is recommended by your instructor when completing assignments. Some sources are the Evidence Based Medicine website and CASP. There are three general questions you will want to consider:

  • Is the study valid? Some questions to get you started:
    • What type of study is it?
      • Is it on a clearly focused topic?
    • Is the methodology unbiased?
      • Were subjects recruited properly?
      • Was the follow up of subjects complete or long enough?
  • What are the results of the study?
    • How were the results expressed?
    • How precise are they?
  • Will the results help in caring for my patient? 
    • Is the study covering a population similar to my patient?
    • Can I apply this valid evidence safely to my patient?

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