Comparison of the effects of using the Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool versus informal appraisal in assessing health research: a randomised trial

Crowe, Michael, Sheppard, Lorraine, and Campbell, Alistair (2011) Comparison of the effects of using the Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool versus informal appraisal in assessing health research: a randomised trial. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 9 (4). pp. 444-449.

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Background: In systematic reviews, evidence-based practice, and journal clubs critical appraisal tools are used to rate research papers. However, little evidence exists on whether the critical appraisal tool, subject matter knowledge, or research design knowledge affect the appraisal of research papers.

Methods: A match paired randomised trial was conducted in August/September 2010 in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Science, James Cook University, Australia. Ten participants in total were randomly assigned to two groups using either an informal appraisal of research (IA group) or the Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool (CCAT group), a general critical appraisal tool. Participant independently appraised five research papers, where each paper had a different research design. The scores allocated to the papers by each group were analysed.

Results: The intraclass correlation coefficient for absolute agreement was 0.76 for the IA group and 0.88 for the CCAT group. The G study showed that in the IA group 24% of variance in scores was attributable to either the rater or paper × rater interactions whereas this was 12% in the CCAT group. Analysis of covariance showed that there were statistically significant results in the IA group for subject matter knowledge (F(1,18) = 7.03, p < 0.05 1 tailed, partial η² = 0.28) and rater (F(4,18) = 4.57, p < 0.05 1 tailed, partial η² = 0.50). Kendall’s tau correlation coefficient also showed a significant weak positive relationship (τ = 0.38, p = 0.03) between total score and subject matter knowledge for the IA group.

Discussion: The Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool was more reliable than an informal appraisal of the research papers. In the IA group, there were significant effects for rater and subject matter knowledge, whereas the CCAT almost eliminated the rater effect and no subject matter knowledge effect was apparent. There was no research design knowledge effect in either group.

Conclusions: The CCAT provided much better score reliability and should help readers with different levels and types of knowledge to reach similar conclusions about a research paper.

Item ID: 20925
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-1609
Keywords: critical appraisal; systematic review; quantitative research; qualitative research; evidence based practice
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2012 05:34
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160807 Sociological Methodology and Research Methods @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 20%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences @ 60%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 20%
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