Assessing information quality

Evaluate the literature with three steps which can be applied each time you read a paper, even when you are busy with your daily practice.

Taken together, these three steps don’t take long, but they will enhance your ability to use and apply the knowledge you gain from reading and appraising scientific literature.

  1. Determine the evidence level: Where in the hierarchy of evidence should this paper be placed?
  2. Evaluate the quality criteria for the specific study, and decide whether you agree or disagree with its statements concerning study design, information content, objectivity and overall validity.
  3. Decide whether you agree with the conclusions of the study, based on your assessment. Is the study of such poor quality that the results are completely unreliable, or is it good enough to provide valid results? And do these results apply to your patient and the current situation with which you are dealing?

Try working through these steps with a sample study and a blank criteria checklist. You can check your answers against a completed checklist.