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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 5: Quality Filtering and Evidence-Based Medicine and Health (page 12 of 15)
Introduction | Sampling | Assignment | Assessment | Analysis | Interpretation | Extrapolation

Analyzing the Literature for Quality

When preparing to analyze the literature, use these questions as a guide to evaluating each paper as is shown in the research cases. (Questions are also organized in a table for you to use in that format).

Study Question:

  • What is/are your study question or questions?

Study Design:

Sample:
  • Who was studied?
  • Is there an appropriate number of people in the sample?
  • What was the sample size?
  • more on Samples and sampling
Assignment:
  • Were the people in the study assigned to groups?
  • What groups were compared?
  • Examine the table that describes the people in each group. Check to see that they are similar in age, socioeconomic status, health characteristics, and others (excluding the factors being studied).
  • Were confounders indicated? How were they dealt with?
  • more on Assignment
Assessment:
 
  • How will these patient outcomes be defined and measured?
  • Are measurements accurate and complete?
  • Is there any evidence of recall bias?
  • Is there any indication of "measurement errors"?
  • Is the data complete and suitable for measuring the question?
  • If the researchers compared outcomes of specific procedures across hospitals were the patients similar? Case-mix might be different in different hospitals.
  • more on Assessment

Analysis:

  • Analysis will answer three main questions
    • How strong was the association between variables?
    • What is the likelihood of getting the results from the sample if there was no relationship between variables in the larger population from which the sample came?
    • Were the groups in the study different in any way that could affect the results?
  • more on Analysis

Interpretation:

  • Was a causal relationship supported by the data?
  • What was the relative risk?
  • Was the association consistent across different groups?
  • more on Interpretation

Extrapolation:

  • Have the authors of the studies you found generalized too much from their data?
  • Have the authors extend the data farther than the data supports?
  • more on Extrapolation
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