Author: Dr. Rijo Mathew Choorakuttil, Director and Founder, AMMA Center for Diagnosis and Preventive Medicine, Kochi, Kerala, India
The practice of Medicine is never static and evolves with time. In the past, medicine was heavily dependent on observations and individual experiences in local contexts. Technological advances, digitalization and the internet have helped to break boundaries and barriers among nations and make the sharing of experiences instantaneous. Knowledge is now more easily available and shareable.
Health care has evolved to seeking, evaluating and applying the best evidence to patient care as part of evidence based models, patient centered models and practice based models. The focus is on a cycle of doing, evaluating, and applying. Needless to say, it has also resulted in many scientific journals, countless research papers and many different answers to many questions. The health care practitioner now faces the task of going over countless research papers to find out what is appropriate. This is not an easy or pleasant task for a busy practitioner at the primary or secondary level who does not enjoy institutional support.
Health care practitioners want to do well by their patients. They want to provide the best care. They want to update their knowledge so that patient care is not compromised. They have to balance this need with the time required to provide care for a large number of patients. Needless to say, they will like simple, easily digestible, reliable and applicable bits of knowledge. At the end of the day, their primary concern is: “How can I use this to improve care for my patients”
Research, however, has become more complex and sophisticated and consequently, the reporting of research has become more complex and sophisticated. Often, it is easier to to climb Mount Everest than to read and understand a research paper.
We have created a basic checklist approach (see presentation) to reading a health research paper. This checklist provides some important questions to look at while reading any research paper.
The best way to use this checklist is to keep practicing it. As you keep practicing it, you will find yourselves becoming more comfortable with identify reliable research results. The more you practice, it becomes more comfortable to pull out what you can use to improve patient care. In subsequent posts, we will go into each element of the checklist in greater detail.
The reading of research is an art that blends an objective science with a subjective interpretation. It is almost like a marriage- you have to work to make it happen!
PS: The information provided in the presentation is dynamic and open to change as our knowledge and understanding evolves.
Download the presentation: Reading Research Papers-A Basic Checklist
Watch a Short Video: