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Optometry Digital Literacy Toolkit

A toolkit to assist Optometry students with developing personal digital literacy capacity

Appraise the Evidence

You’ve found some evidence that seems like it applies to your question. But does it really?
How reliable is the evidence? And how can you tell?

We can consider these questions using the next step in the EBP process: Appraise.

Note: look at Deakin's Study Support page if you want to learn more about critical thinking.

But how do we appraise scientific evidence for clinical decision-making?

Well, we examine it, think critically, weigh up its arguments, and reflect on what value it holds for our circumstances. It might feel difficult to start with, but the more you do it the better you’ll get.

To help you out, specific tools exist to help you appraise scientific evidence. These save you time and make your appraisal more effective. One example of these is the series of CASP appraisal checklists.

CASP Appraisal Checklists

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Appraisal Checklists offer a guide to examining aspects of different study types as described in scholarly literature. Once you know more about study types and can identify a study type, pick the relevant appraisal checklist and apply it to the study.

For example, if you're reading an article that describes the results of a randomised controlled trial (RCT), you could use the CASP RCT checklist to help you think critically about the potential application of the study's findings to you.

There are checklists for eight study types in total. Visit the CASP site for more information.

Activity: Appraise a Systematic Review

Now you’re going to try using part of the CASP Systematic Review Checklist to appraise this paper from Cochrane on treatment of conjunctivitis.

You’ll need to have the above paper open in order to answer the questions below.

These questions are taken directly from the CASP Systematic Review Checklist and are intended to guide you to specific parts of each study in order to assess what you find there.

Was there anything about the checklist you didn't understand?

Don't worry, the more you do this and the further you progress in your studies, the easier it will become. Talk to your lecturers for more help as well.

Further Help

The Optometry Digital Literacy Toolkit was developed by Deakin University Library.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or feedback.