You can quickly appraisal any research article by answering a few simple questions. If you answer 'yes' to these questions, keep the article to read more thoroughly. If you answer 'no', leave the article behind and move along.
1. What is the level of evidence?
- This can often be found in the article title or abstract.
- Refer back to the pyramid of evidence.
2. How well was the study conducted?
- Look at the sample size (N). This number should be on the larger side.
- What was the duration of follow-up? This should be addressed in the article.
- How complete was the follow-up? This should be addressed in the article.
- Look at the dropout rate. More than 20% is not good!
3. How useful is this study to my patients?
- In some ways this is the most important question because it does not matter how amazing the study is if it won't help your patient population.
- Look at the patient characteristics. How closely do they match your patients?