Critical Appraisal Tools and Reporting Guidelines for Evidence-Based Practice

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Abstract

Background:

Nurses engaged in evidence-based practice (EBP) have two important sets of tools: Critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines. Critical appraisal tools facilitate the appraisal process and guide a consumer of evidence through an objective, analytical, evaluation process. Reporting guidelines, checklists of items that should be included in a publication or report, ensure that the project or guidelines are reported on with clarity, completeness, and transparency.

Purpose:

The primary purpose of this paper is to help nurses understand the difference between critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines. A secondary purpose is to help nurses locate the appropriate tool for the appraisal or reporting of evidence.

Methods:

A systematic search was conducted to find commonly used critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines for EBP in nursing.

Rationale:

This article serves as a resource to help nurse navigate the often-overwhelming terrain of critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines, and will help both novice and experienced consumers of evidence more easily select the appropriate tool(s) to use for critical appraisal and reporting of evidence. Having the skills to select the appropriate tool or guideline is an essential part of meeting EBP competencies for both practicing registered nurses and advanced practice nurses (Melnyk & Gallagher-Ford, 2015; Melnyk, Gallagher-Ford, & Fineout-Overholt, 2017).

Results:

Nine commonly used critical appraisal tools and eight reporting guidelines were found and are described in this manuscript. Specific steps for selecting an appropriate tool as well as examples of each tool's use in a publication are provided.

Linking Evidence to Action:

Practicing registered nurses and advance practice nurses must be able to critically appraise and disseminate evidence in order to meet EBP competencies. This article is a resource for understanding the difference between critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines, and identifying and accessing appropriate tools or guidelines.

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