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Occupational Therapy

What is Critical Appraisal?

"Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining a research report to judge its trustworthiness, make sense of the results and assess the relevance of the findings in a particular context."

Burls, Amanda. (2015) "What is Critical Appraisal?" What is...? series. Hayward Medical Communications. Retrieved from http://www.whatisseries.co.uk/what-is-critical-appraisal/

OR in other words...

Critical Appraisal is the process of systematically evaluating scientific research/evidence in order to judge validity, relevance and value within a particular context.  This is a necessary tool. for life-long learning and should be used every time you read a primary study.

-- retrieved from: Critical Appraisal Institute through the New York Medical College

Critical Appraisal Worksheets

Once you have located published evidence, it's time to critically appraise those studies. Critical appraisal worksheets pose a structured series of questions that can help you assess study methodology, validity, and applicability to your clinical question. Here are some good ones to check out:

An Introduction...

The Four Possibilities...

There are 4 possible explanations for every study finding. It is your job when you read a study to figure out the role each of these plays. Please consider these 4 things for every study you evaluate.

  1. Truth:  The finding is real. Truth can only be determined by studying every person with a disease or condition.  Studies are completed to ESTIMATE truth.
  2. Chance:  Random error.  Assessed by hypothesis testing and estimation.
  3. Bias:  Systematic (or non-random) errors in study design or conduct that lead to over or under estimation of effect. When you critically appraise an article you are looking for bias.
  4. Confounding:  A 3rd factor outside of the causal chain that influences the effect on cause & outcome.

-- retrieved from: Critical Appraisal Institute through the New York Medical College