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Guide to locating research evidence and tools for Physical Therapy students and faculty.
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:
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
Evidence review forms for appraising quantitative and qualitative evidence from the McMaster EBP Research Group.
The McMaster Occupational Therapy Evidence-based Practice group focuses on research to critically review evidence regarding the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions and to develop tools for evaluation of occupational therapy programmes.
Ranking and Appraising the Evidence
Appraising an article, a report, a protocol, a printed recommendation, etc. begins as you look at the document and evaluate the methodology and source of the research.
Start appraising by asking the following questions:
Who is the author?
Was it published by a credible source? (a scholarly journal? a popular periodical, e.g, newspaper or magazine? an association? an organization?)
Is the source a book? A journal article?
What is the date of publication?
What is the data or research based on? If it is a scholarly article, is there a "Methods" section?
Is there a reference list at the end of the document? From the reference list, you can assess currency of the information, credibility of the sources, level of evidence of the source material.
Tips for determining the "level of evidence" for an article.
Use the evidence pyramid or scheme supplied by your professor.
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's abstract. Often an abstract will indicate the research design or methodology and thus 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.