Evaluating Research: Other Issues of Research Methodology in Evidence-Based Medicine/Evidence-Based Practice
Appraising the quality of research studies for practice use is Step 3 of the evidence-based practice (EBP) practice decision-making process. It can be a difficult task and requires professional expertise quite distinct from doing clinical assessment (Step 1 in EBP) or locating research resources (Step 2 in EBP). Chapter 6 addressed the key role of research design in appraising research quality. While research design is one very important aspect of evaluating evidence-based medicine (EBM) and EBP research reports, it is hardly the only important methodological issue. In addition to research designs, a number of related methodological choices also are important for making valid claims about treatments, diagnostic tests, or prognosis. These include the quality and comprehensiveness of the sample, the validity and sensitivity of the outcome measures, the definition of the treatment under investigation, and the careful use of the correct statistical tests. These methods work in combination to yield valid and rigorous results in quantitative clinical research. In this chapter, we will review each of these issues in order.