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Teaching critical appraisal for evidence-based practice: a simple generic tool for the non-expert.
  • Kevork Hopayian
Kevork Hopayian
University of Nicosia

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Rationale, aims and objectives Progress in evidence-based practice has been hampered by the difficulty faced by health practitioners in learning and practising critical appraisal of internal validity. Several tools have been developed to assist them non-expert but there is a need for a simple, generic tool that can be taught and remembered easily. This article describes the development of such a tool, SAFOBAD, how it has been used, and reviews it characteristics. Method Four criteria for a generic tool were set. 1. It should integrate with teaching. 2. It should relate only to internal validity. 3. It should be applicable to all quantitative studies. 4. It should be simple enough for the non-expert practitioner to remember and to use. The tool, SAFOBAD, was developed as a result of teaching on several post-graduate, multidisciplinary courses. SAFOBAD was compared against alternative tools. Results SAFOBAD is a schema, that is, a framework or model that helps the learner organise and interpret information. Compared to other tools, only one met all four criteria but SAFOBAD is more comprehensive and appears more universally acceptable. Conclusions SAFOBAD is a useful tool for teaching critical appraisal and for use by non-experts. Such a tool has been developed to enable non-expert practitioners to learn and apply the basics of appraisal. It breaks research into three phases in relation to data collection, before: during and after. The facets of research, Selection, Allocation, Follow Up, Outcomes, Blinding, Analysis and Discussion, are grouped under the phases. Biases can be mapped to each facet. The tool forms a mnemonic for each facet of research, Scrutinise All Facets of the study Otherwise Bias Avoids Detection (SAFOBAD). It is applicable to all quantitative research studies, emerges from teaching and is easy to remember and use.