Scope of Assignment
Each student will identify a problem (clinical or public health question) in their field of choice and identify (3) relevant peer-reviewed scientific papers that address their question. They will need to critically appraise the papers, evaluate the evidence, and consider the application of the evidence to practice – what knowledge gained could be passed to relevant stakeholders (e.g., clinical leads, public health professionals or policymakers)?
• Identify a problem (clinical or public health, e.g. diabetes, hypertension, vaccination, etc.);
• Select (3) relevant peer-reviewed scientific papers from Pubmed/Medline/ or any other database you have access to.
• Your three studies selected must be different study designs. For example, you can select a case-control study, a cohort study and a randomized clinical trial.
• Critically appraise the papers using appropriate quality assessment checklists (for observational studies use STROBE, for clinical trial use CONSORT).
• Consider the application of the evidence to practice – what knowledge gained could be passed to relevant stakeholders (e.g., clinical leads, public health officials or policy makers)?
• Consider identifying the different biases you found in the studies. What are the weakness and strength of each study?
Formulating the Question
The question could come from issues you have come across in your workplace, classes taken during your training, or something you may have been asked by a family or a friend.
When thinking of a question it may be helpful to formulate
Your report should include the following:
• The epidemiologic/clinical/public health scenario and question posed
• PICO interpretation of question
• Your search strategy and results of the search
• Brief comment on the body of evidence based on your inspection of the abstracts
• Critical appraisal of the identified (3) papers. These three papers could be individual studies or systematic reviews; however, a systematic review paper still counts for one paper only. At the beginning of each critical appraisal please provide the title of the paper.
• Overall synthesis of the evidence
• A lay summary of the evidence explaining the implications, using words that you might use to answer the question posed by the patient, parent or other non-medical person.
Style and Word Count
Your written report should be in 12pt font, 1.5 or double-spaced, and no more than 3000 words. This word limit includes everything that is a part of your submission except references (i.e. study question, Medline search strategy, tables etc).
Each report should have a cover sheet that includes your name, title for the report, and the word count. On each page of the report include your name in the top right (easiest if you include it in the ‘header’ of the page) and the page number on the bottom. Please also include the full versions of the 3 papers you have appraised.
Search strategy and abstracts
• Appropriate description of the clinical/public health scenario and formulation of PICO question
• Appropriate databases searched using reasonable strategy with MESH and text words as required
• Good summary of evidence from abstracts
• Reasonable justification for selection of papers to appraise in full
Critical appraisal of 3 papers / Application of epidemiologic skills • Demonstrate understanding of key concepts & study limitations
• Identifies the strengths of the study
• Writing skills i.e. ability to describe the original studies and their appraisal in a coherent and concise essay fashion rather than as a checklist
Synthesis of evidence and lay summary
• Arrive at reasonable conclusions from the evidence
• Ability to describe the findings in suitable lay terms
• Style and presentation
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