How to evaluate relevance of research in Michigan State University’s Evidence-Based Medicine Course.Key Concepts addressed:
- 1-1 Treatments can harm
- 1-6 Expert opinion is not always right
- 1-11 Explanations about how treatments work can be wrong
- 2-1 Comparisons are needed to identify treatment effects
- 2-2 Comparison groups should be similar
- 2-5 People should not know which treatment they get
- 2-9 Reviews of fair comparisons should be systematic
- 3-1 Do the outcomes measured matter to you?
- 2-17 Don’t confuse “statistical significance” with “importance”
- 2-15 Fair comparisons with few people or outcome events can be misleading
We feel that evaluating the relevance of a study is the first step in critically reading a paper. This directly relates to whether you can (or should) apply the results of the paper to the care of your patients. One of the first questions you should ask is whether the treatment is feasible. If you can’t do it or refer a patient for it, the treatment is irrelevant to your practice, and you can ignore the paper.