Relevance for Public Health
The quality appraisal tool can be used to appraise systematic reviews of public health interventions. Specifically, the tool would be useful for program managers who use research evidence to make decisions about program development or program de-implementation. The tool can also be used as a teaching tool for critical appraisal.
Health Evidence™ is a free online registry of systematic review-level evidence evaluating the effectiveness of public health and health promotion interventions. This website is one component of a larger knowledge translation resource.
The goal is to support public health decision makers working in program planning and policy to engage in evidence-informed decision making. Monthly searches of the published literature are done to identify public health-relevant systematic reviews. Two independent raters critically appraise all reviews that meet relevance criteria (review article; relevant to public health practice; focuses on effectiveness of an intervention; reports evidence on health outcomes; describes search strategy), and create a summary statement for selected high-quality reviews.
The “Health Evidence™ Quality Assessment Tool – Review Articles” is a tool developed by Health Evidence™ and is used for appraising systematic reviews on the effectiveness of public health interventions. All included systematic reviews then become part of the Health Evidence™ repository.
Accessing the Method/Tool
Implementing the Method/Tool
Time for Participation/Completion
30 to 60 minutes
Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation
Yes. The time to use the tool may depend on the knowledge of study design concepts, systematic review methodology, and related definitions.
Steps for Using Method/Tool
The tool is made of 10 questions, each dealing with a different part of critical appraisal. In brief, the 10 questions address the following critical appraisal key elements;
Q1: Research question
Q2: Inclusion/exclusion criteria
Q3: Search strategy
Q4: Search dates
Q5: Level of evidence
Q6: Methodological quality
Q9: Appropriateness of analysis methods
Each question requires a final answer of YES or NO, where a yes answer is assigned one point and a no answer, zero points. After all 10 questions are answered by the reviewer, a final score is calculated. Based on the final score, the following qualifiers are used to provide an overall rating of the systematic review.
Quality assessment rating:
Strong: total score of 8 to 10
Moderate: total score of 5 to 7
Weak: total score of 4 or less
Each of the 10 questions listed above are further described in the tool in terms of the study design issues and rating decision making. The tool also describes any caveats (e.g., qualitative reviews, reviews of reviews).
Who is involved
Any systematic reviewers may be interested to use this tool, as well as managers and other staff interested in health-based decision making using evidence.
Conditions for Use
Evaluation and Measurement Characteristics
Has been evaluated.
Shown to have acceptable reliability (see Supplemental Resources)
Method of Development
175 Longwood Road S, Suite 210a
Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1
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.