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Critical appraisal tools to make sense of evidence

A summary of Public Health Resource Unit (2006). The Critical Skills Appraisal Programme:  making sense of evidence. Public Health Resource Unit, England. Retrieved from: http://www.casp-uk.net/

How to cite this NCCMT summary:

National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (2011). Critical appraisal tools to make sense of evidence. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University. (Updated 16 December, 2011). Retrieved from http://www.nccmt.ca/registry/view/eng/87.html.

Keywords: Appraise

Tool Knowledge Doing

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

Relevance for Public Health
The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tools can be used to teach critical appraisal skills in a wide variety of settings, including public health. To learn more about using the CASP tools to improve public health practice, see the NCCMT's Online Learning Modules. For example, the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tools can be used to appraise and summarize the evidence on bullying prevention among children and youth to inform local programming.
Description

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) helped to develop an evidence-based approach in health and social care, working with local, national and international groups. CASP aims to help individuals develop skills to find and make sense of research evidence, helping them to apply evidence in practice.

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tools were developed to teach people how to critically appraise different types of evidence. There are seven checklists specifically designed to appraise: 

  1. Systematic Reviews
  2. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)
  3. Qualitative Research
  4. Economic Evaluation Studies
  5. Cohort Studies
  6. Case Control Studies
  7. Diagnostic Test Studies

All critical appraisal tools consist of three sections to assess internal validity, the results and the relevance to practice.

The CASP appraisal tools were developed from guides produced by the Evidence Based Medicine Working Group published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Implementing the Method/Tool
Steps for Using Method/Tool

Each Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) appraisal tool asks three broad questions:

  • Is the study valid?
  • What are the results?
  • Will the results help locally?

Each of the seven appraisal tools includes 10–12 questions. The first two questions are screening questions; if the answer is yes to both, it is worth proceeding with the remaining questions to assess the study. Prompts are given with each question to remind the user why the question is important.

There are seven critical appraisal tools to assess:

  1. Systematic Reviews
  2. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)
  3. Qualitative Research
  4. Economic Evaluation Studies
  5. Cohort Studies
  6. Case Control Studies
  7. Diagnostic Test Studies
Who is involved
Any individual interested in learning how to critically appraise research evidence could use the CASP tools.
Conditions for Use
Not specified
Evaluation and Measurement Characteristics
Evaluation
Has been evaluatedHas been evaluated. The tools were pilot tested in workshops, including feedback and review of materials, using successively broader audiences. Thus the CASP tools are suitable for a wide target audience in service administration and health care delivery.
Validity
Not applicable
Reliability
Not applicable
Methodological Rating
Not applicableNot applicable
Method/Tool Development
Developer(s)
The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme
Solutions for Public Health
National Health Service, UK
website:  http://www.casp-uk.net/

 

Method of Development

The CASP checklists were developed using a four-stage process:

  • A multidisciplinary working group and CASP secretariat drafted written materials.
  • The working group tested the critical appraisal tool and modified it as needed.
  • The tool was piloted with a knowledgeable audience and further modified.
  • Non-expert health professionals used the tool.

The members of the multidisciplinary working groups had backgrounds in public health, epidemiology or evidence-based practice.

Release Date
2006
Contact Person/Source

Amanda Burls
Director of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)
email: amanda.burls@dphpc.ox.ac.uk

website: http://www.casp-uk.net/

Resources

Title of Primary Resource
The Critical Skills Appraisal Programme: making sense of evidence
File Attachment
None
Web-link
Reference

Public Health Resource Unit (2006). The Critical Skills Appraisal Programme:  making sense of evidence. Public Health Resource Unit, England. Retrieved from: http://www.casp-uk.net/

Type of Material
Website
Format
On-line Access
Cost to Access
None 
Language
English
Conditions for Use
Copyright © 2006 Public Health Resource Unit, England 


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