Reading scientific articles and clinical documentation is essentially about being able to judge how reliable the results are (the articles strengths, weaknesses and validity) and what they mean for you in your clinical work. In order for a scientific article to be deemed credible, certain data must be present.
We have put together a checklist of important and necessary information to look for. Below you will find en exerpt of the checklist:
- Purpose of the study
Why was the study performed? The purpose, which can be both primary and secondary, should be compared with the conclusion.
- Type of study / Study design
Is it a prospective or retrospective study? Generally prospective studies are more reliable, since the criteria are set before the patients are treated. Results from randomized controlled trials overweigh non‐randomized, larger studies overweigh smaller and blinded studies overweigh open.
- Study Design/Method
What is the strength in study design and what do previous studies say? Is the used method described well (which is important for reproducibility)? What was the length of follow‐up?
- Number of clinics involved
How many clinics are involved? If more than one clinic is involved in the study it is more likely that the results can be repeated.