Clinical Resources

Nurse Residency

Critical Appraisal

What Is It?

Critical appraisal is reviewing the evidence to determine the validity, reliability, and applicability of evidence to our practice.

We're asking ourselves, is this article logical/factual, trustworthy, and relatable? 

Simply finding the evidence is not the end of the process.

How do we do it?

When first learning, it's best to use a checklist.

To choose a checklist, first identify the type of evidence you have -- that's the type of study you're evaluating: RCT, systematic review, cohort study, case study, etc. Then, choose a checklist (see the list on the left) designed to critique that type of study design.

Like any skill, it takes practice, but gets easier over time. The goal is to think critically about whether or not the article makes sense, is trustworthy, and can be related to your patient population. While reading, ask yourself:

  • Why was study done and did they answer their original questions?
  • What is the sample size and how might that affect the results and conclusions?
  • Did they look at the right measures of their desired outcomes?
  • Are the statistical tests appropriate to the study design?
  • Are the conclusions drawn backed up by the data?
  • How might any limitations or conflicts change your view of the conclusions?

Understanding the Math

Not sure where to start with p values and confidence intervals? Watch this video:

Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions. Unpacking statistical and clinical significance just takes some math and common sense.

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