Assessing the Evidence
by Crag Whittington, PhD & Jacob Franek, MHSc
GROWTH commentaries started in November 2014, and have covered a broad range of topics relevant to those interested in evidence-based medicine (EBM). We now have great pleasure to introduce a series of commentaries covering a specific theme: Assessing the Evidence. This 6-part series progresses from assessing the quality of RCTs all the way through to assessing the quality of guidelines. Making judgments about evidence and recommendations in healthcare is complex. Often, there is insufficient information to make a well-informed inference from evidence, but in most cases, inferences must be made and guidance provided. Systematic reviewers and others who use evidence must therefore make judgments about the quality or certainty in the evidence. And these judgments ultimately guide important healthcare decisions or recommendations.
Critical to making judgments is the use of a systematic and explicit approach to guide the process by which judgments will be made. The lack of such an approach creates greater probability for errors in judgment, hinders the critical appraisal of judgments and prevents the external communication of judgments including rationales for decisions or recommendations reliant on these judgments.