Thursday, September 8, 2022

The 5 As of Evidence-Based Practice: Appraise (Part 4)

Guest post by Gabriel Merckx, MLIS* 

The Five A’s of Evidence Based Practice: Appraise

Welcome back to Ascension Library Services’ series on Evidence Based Practice! This is the fourth article in the series. See the whole 5-part series: The 5As of Evidence-based Practice.

Once you start to look things up, now you have to pick things out. But when you have hundreds of papers, how do you even get started?

First, look for the best evidence. In order to do that, search for

  • systematic reviews
  • meta-analysis
  • randomized controlled trials (RCTs) / double blind studies
These are considered to have the highest levels of evidence based on their careful approach, which helps to eliminate bias.

In PubMed, limit what is shown by using the customizing tools on the sidebar on the left. By choosing Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses only articles that fit systematic reviews or meta-analyses should be shown in the results list.

If you don't get any systematic reviews or meta-analyses, try the next level of best evidence: Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).

If using a database other than PubMed that does not have these limiters, take a look at the title and the methods. Oftentimes, the title will include “A Systematic Review," and the methods will list if it was a double-blind study or not. Either way, read through the methods to make sure. 

After reading through the paper, ask these questions:

  • Were the methods clear?

  • Is this backed by other studies?

  • Is the conclusion actually supported by the result?

  • Are the results valid?

  • Is there a high risk of bias based on the method?

Worksheets such as the ones on our EBP LibGuide can help answer these questions.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it might not be a good source.

Want more resources on appraisal? Our EBP LibGuide has several compilations of resources for your use.

> See the whole 5-part series: The 5As of Evidence-based Practice

Have questions that might need a more personal explanation? 

* Gabriel Merckx was a practicum student at the Mercy Library in the summer of 2019 when he wrote this series.

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