"Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research evidence to judge its trustworthiness, its value and relevance in a particular context." (Mhaskar 2009)
Case Series and Case Reports: Collections of reports on the treatment of individual patients or a report on a single patient.
Case Control Studies: Patients who already have a specific condition are compared with people without the condition.
Cohort Studies: Take a large population who are already taking a particular treatment or have an exposure, follow them forward over time, and then compare for outcomes with a similar group that has not been affected by the treatment or exposure.
Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials: Carefully planned projects that introduce a treatment or exposure to study its effects on patients. Include randomization and blinding to reduce bias and allow for comparison between intervention and control groups.
Systematic Reviews: Usually focus on a clinical topic and answer a specific question. An extensive literature search is conducted to identify studies with sound methodology. The studies are reviewed, assessed, and the results summarized according to the predetermined criteria of the review questions.
Meta-Analysis: Thoroughly examines a number of valid studies on a topic and combines the results using accepted statistical methodology to report the results as if it were one large study.
National Library of Medicine
Evaluating Information Within the Health Sciences
Appropriateness To Your Need
Explanation: Are you looking for information on symptoms, a narrower focused clinical question, a basic science research question, etc.? Your information need will help determine the appropriateness of content.
Type of Source
Explanation: Authoritative content may be any type of media (books, articles, videos, social media, etc.) and come in many different types (systematic reviews, guidelines, point of care tools). Authoritative sources are appropriate to the specific research or clinical work being done.
Explanation: Does the author's name and affiliation appear? What are the author’s qualifications? What credentials contribute to the author’s authority?
Can you detect errors or content that seems questionable? Does the author cite their sources? Do the sources cited seem authoritative and appropriate?
Explanation: Who is funding the publication: NIH (US government), a drug company, etc.?
Explanation: When was the publication/site created? When was it last updated? Context determines what constitutes timely information.
Author’s Method of Gathering & Analyzing Data
Explanation: When gathering data an author may have done their own original study, compiled various outside sources, interviewed people, or be writing from personal experience. Any method can be authoritative, depending on the information need.
Adapted from Rachel Radom and Rachel W. Gammons, “Teaching Information Evaluation with the Five Ws: An Elementary Method, an Instructional Scaffold, and the Effect on Student Recall and Application and Evaluating Health Information, EKU