In a perfect world, research studies would be flawless however, that is not typically the case. Inherently, flaws exist related to study design, how the study is conducted, and also the manner in which research is reported. Given that research is not perfect, users of research must learn to carefully evaluate research reports to determine their worth to practice through critical appraisal (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2015, p. 92-93). Factors that need to be assessed when critically appraising quantitative studies include validity, reliability and applicability (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2015).
The validity of a study relates to obtaining results from utilizing sound methods which are scientific. Bias and confounding variables can compromise validity of a study. Bias can occur at any stage of the process but while assessing the reliability of the results one must look at if the study was systematic, grounded in theory, and criteria was followed for all of the processes. If so, then the study, more than likely, is valid and reliable. Clinicians need the ability to interpret the results so they can implement EBP into their practice (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, 2014). Whether we are interpreting the research studies of others, or designing our own, we need a good understanding of research design and an ability to recognize weaknesses in intervention studies which may reduce the reliability of study findings (Ebbels, 2017, p. 229). Although each factor is important to quality research, I feel the most important factor is the applicability to practice. Having the ability to appraise research, which is evidence-based, and implement EBP interventions with our patients is essential in promoting optimal patient outcomes.
Ebbels, S. H. (2017). Intervention research: Appraising study designs, interpreting findings and creating research in clinical practice. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 19(3), 218-231. https://doi.org/https://doi-org.arbor.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/17549507.2016.1276215
LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (2014). Nursing research: Methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2015). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (3rd ed.). Retrieved from Amazon Kindle App