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Critical Appraisal

A key skill for all health professionals, critical appraisal is an essential part of evidence based practice.

 

“Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research to judge its trustworthiness, and its value and relevance in a particular context.” (Burls, 2009)

 

Developing the skills to appropriately evaluate the research you’re reading is of vital importance. Critical appraisal can enable you to:

  • Determine if your research evidence is biased
  • Determine if the evidence is applicable to your local setting/population
  • Make evidence based, informed decision making
  • Deal with information overload
  • Focus on the highest quality evidence to guide clinical practice

The Library runs Critical Appraisal training, on a 1 to 1 or small group basis. To book on to a session at a time to suit you, contact the Library at Library@geh.nhs.uk or call ext 5464.


Checklists

Checklists are tools to help critically appraise research. There are different ones for different study types, as each type of research has its own potential bias.

If you’re not sure what type of study you’re appraising, the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine’s helpful Guide to Study Designs can help you to work it out.

Some useful checklists are:

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklists are a set of eight critical appraisal tools to use when reading research. They are free to download.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) at the University of Oxford offer a set of critical appraisal worksheets to use when reading research. They’re also available translated into several non-English languages.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland/ SIGN provide a number of critical appraisal checklists and accompanying notes.

Find out more about checklists and which one to use when from the University of Exeter.

Online training resources

E-learning module on Training Tracker- exclusive to George Eliot staff.

Finding and appraising the evidence by Amanda Burls and Anne Brice is a useful online guide to the topic based on the CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme). The resource is mainly video based, with a particular recommendation for the Randomised Controlled Trials section.

How to read health news from NHS Choices gives tips on how to evaluate health-related news.

Critical appraisal for Health Professionals is a quick guide from the University of Exeter.

Andrew Booth at the University of Sheffield has produced videos on criticizing qualitative research and quantitative research.

Reading list

Behind the Headlines– the science behind the latest health news checked by NHS experts.

Bootland, D. et al. (2017)  Critical appraisal from papers to patient: A practical guide. Abingdon: CRC Press.

Burls, A. (2009) What is critical appraisal? Available at: http://www.bandolier.org.uk/painres/download/whatis/What_is_critical_appraisal.pdf (Accessed: 01/08/2019).

Greenhalgh, T. (2019) How to read a paper. 6th edn. Chichester: Wiley.

 

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