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Health (Nursing, Medicine, Allied Health): Critical Appraisal
Guide to research sources and tools for locating health evidence in books, journals, databases.
The CASP International Network (CASPin) is an international collaboration which supports the teaching and learning of critical appraisal skills, and in particular helps other people set up sustainable training programmes. Appraisal tools are available for:
Randomised controlled trials
Qualitative research studies
Economic evaluation studies
Case control studies
Diagnostic test studies
The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (short GRADE) Working Group began in the year 2000 as an informal collaboration of people with an interest in addressing the shortcomings of present grading systems in health care. The working group has developed a common, sensible and transparent approach to grading quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
The Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) is a systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials. It is designed as a guide to help determine whether patients will be able to understand and act on information. Separate tools are available for use with print and audiovisual materials.
Tutorial designed to help readers of clinical trials differentiate those trials which are likely to be valid from those that might not be. Also looks briefly at how therapists might use findings of properly performed studies to make clinical decisions
To track down a journal citation, select an article database (PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO etc.) using the author, article title, OR journal title.
Other tools for tracking down a citation not easily found in databases: scholar.google.com OR google.com Googling may provide a path to a more obscure document or report.
Within the article database, notice the "Publication Type" field for an individual citation. There is often an indication that a citation is a "randomized controlled trial," a "case report," a "Review" article, etc.
Caution, a "review" is not necessarily a "systematic review." Even if the title or abstract says "systematic review," carefully evaluate whether it is a true systematic review or merely a literature/narrative review.
Look at the article Abstract. Often an abstract will indicate the research design or methodology. This can indicate the level of evidence.
Link to the full text of an article; then look for the Methods section to review how the research was conducted.
If you have difficulty tracking down a citation in a reference list using the above tips, consider this a potential indication of the quality of the original document. Perhaps a typo or mistake is the result of careless information. What does that tell you about the quality of the evidence?