A tool to appraise all types of public health evidence: the Public Health Ontario MetaQAT

A Summary of


The purpose of the MetaQAT as described in a full publication is to address the limitations in current quality appraisal tools. The benefits of the MetaQAT tool are that it is both flexible enough to address a variety of public health questions, and sufficiently rigorous in terms of the critical appraisal of methodology. Existing quality appraisal tools in the published and grey literature were identified and reviewed to map concepts of quality appraisal for public health evidence. A four-domain appraisal framework was developed, consisting of relevancy, reliability, validity, and applicability. A suite of design-specific companion tools were chosen to provide further guidance to assess validity of common designs, if required. The MetaQAT tool allows users to simultaneously assess the many relevant study designs available for public health research, including non-standard designs.

Access the Tool

Format of the Tool




On-line Access



Using the Tool

Time for Participation/Completion

Information not available

Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation


Steps for Using Method/Tool

MetaQAT users conduct the quality assessment process by answering questions in each domain of the framework. The meta-tool can be fit to individual projects by following the instructions in the guidance document. Written answers are recorded in the tool, detailing the main quality points relevant to each question. Overall comments for each domain are also recorded to facilitate summary of the assessment. In the validity domain, users are provided with suggestions for general internal validity issues to consider, and directed to a list of design specific companion tools to supplement the general content.

Who is involved

Anyone wanting to assess study relevance, reliability, validity, or applicability would find this tool useful.

Conditions for Use

Not specified

Evaluation of the Tool


Has been evaluated.

This tool was evaluated for face validity, content validity, and criterion validity.


Not applicable


Information not available

Methodological Rating

Unknown/No evidence

Development of the Tool


L. Rosella
C. Bowman
B. Pach
S. Morgan
T. Fitzpatrick
V. Goel

Method of Development

Existing published quality appraisal tools and grey literature were searched and reviewed to map concepts of quality appraisal for public health evidence. Face validity was assessed by consultation; content validity was assessed by comparison to existing tools; criterion validity was assessed by comparison of the content of assessments between two groups of appraisers.

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

Laura Rosella
Public Health Ontario
480 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 1V2
Phone: (416) 978-6064
Email: laura.rosella@utoronto.ca

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.

Have you used this resource? Share your story!