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One of the great classic introductions to critical assessment of medical research is Trisha Greenhalgh’s series in the British Medical Journal ‘How to read a paper’.Although the practical aspects of critiquing a paper are better served by newer tools like CASP, Greenhalgh’s work has stood the test of time and is still worth recommending.
The critical appraisal of research studies can seem daunting, but tools are available to make the process easier for the non-specialist.
Understanding the language and process of quality assessment is essential when considering or conducting research, and is also valuable for all clinicians who use published research to inform their clinical practice.
Evidence based medicine tells us that we should not accept published research at face value.
Even research from established teams published in the highest impact journals can have methodological flaws, biases and limited generalisability.
This systematic process is used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a research article in order to determine the usefulness and validity of research findings for clinical use.
When reading an article, you should ask yourself a number of questions about the appropriateness of the study design and its key methodological features. Was the sample size sufficient to see true differences in the population? Risk of bias, allocation and randomisation describe fundamental aspects of clinical research, but they are only useful if you know what they mean and how to apply them.Understanding how to assess published research quality is an essential skill for any clinician.Even if the contents of a research paper are reliable, it is sometimes difficult to find the specific information you are looking for and interpret it accurately.Critical appraisal allows us to: Critical appraisal helps to separate what is significant from what is not.Is it descriptive enough to explain the true purpose of the study? often result in an overwhelming volume of results which can vary in quality.It is imperative that all health care professionals keep their medical knowledge up to date to ensure optimal patient care. He received his Pharm D from Long Island University and a master’s degree in Patient Safety and Risk Management from the University of Florida, where he currently serves as a clinical assistant instructor for several courses in the school’s Master of Science program. Polnariev has provided consulting services for various pharmacy organizations, including the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and Institute for Safe Medication Practices.The ability to critically appraise an article is part art and part science. We present a review written specifically for the practising geriatrician.This considers how quality is defined in relation to the methodological conduct and reporting of research.