Critical appraisal is the use of explicit, transparent methods to assess the data in published research, applying the rules of evidence to factors such as internal validity, adherence to reporting standards, conclusions and generalizability. It is an integral process in Evidence Based Practice or Medicine.
It aims to identify methodological flaws in the literature and provide consumers of research evidence (researchers, administrators, educators and clinicians), the opportunity to make informed decisions about the quality of research evidence. It is used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a research article in order to assess the usefulness and validity of research findings. In era of evidence-based healthcare, critical appraisal is necessary for clinical decision-making.
The number of new medical research articles getting published each year is continually increasing. However, not all researches are of good quality; many studies are biased and their results are false claiming. This type of ‘information overload’ can be managed by critical appraisal which enable to focus on only the highest-quality studies that will guide for decision making and policy change in clinical practice. It is also useful to extrapolate information from studies of less rigorous design if high-quality trials are unavailable.
Critical appraisal tools provide analytical evaluations of the quality of the study, in particular the methods applied to minimize biases in a research project. As these factors potentially influence study results and the way that the study findings are interpreted; this information is vital for consumers of research to ascertain whether the results of the study can be believed, and transferred appropriately into other environments, such as policy, further research studies, education or clinical practice. Hence, choosing an appropriate critical appraisal tool is an important component of evidence-based practice.
Our team at MarksMan applies critical appraisal tools to check the validity of a study according to its design.