Again, keeper studies can be identified using handy Rapid Critical Appraisal checklists consisting of a set of simple but important questions. Below are sample questions developed for use with quantitative studies that are applicable to most appraisal situations (it’s important to note that qualitative evidence if it’s relevant to the clinical question, should not be dismissed):
- Why was the study done? Make sure the study is directly relevant to the clinical question.
- What is the sample size? Size can and should vary according to the nature of the study. Since determining valid minimum sample size in a single study can be difficult, taking into account multiple studies is beneficial. The answer to this question alone should not remove a study from the appraisal process.
- Are instruments of the variables in the study clearly defined and reliable? Make sure the variables were consistently applied throughout the study and that they measured what the researchers said they were going to measure.
- How was the data analyzed? Make sure that any statistics are relevant to the clinical question.
- Were there any unusual events during the study? If the sample size changed, for example, determine whether that has ramifications if you wish to replicate the study.
- How do the results fit in with previous research in this area? Make sure the study builds on other studies of a similar nature.
- What are the implications of the research for clinical practice? Ask whether the study addresses a relevant and important clinical issue.