“Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients" (Sackett et al., 1996, p. 71). Also called evidence-based practice, EBM incorporates the practitioner's expertise and clinical judgement with relevant scientific evidence to honor patients' values and preferences in recommending treatment.
Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., Gray, J. A., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 312(7023), 71–72. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2349778/
Dartmouth's Evidence Pyramid provides a way to visualize both the quality of evidence and the amount of evidence available. For example, systematic reviews are at the top of the pyramid, meaning they are both the highest level of evidence and the least common. As you go down the pyramid, the amount of evidence will increase as the quality of the evidence decreases. Image credit: EBM Pyramid by Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University.
Here's another take on the evidence pyramid indicating primary vs. secondary sources and explaining each level.
|Qualitative Techniques or Tools||Quantitative Techniques or Tools|
|Interviews: these can be structured, semi-structured or unstructured in-depth sessions with the researcher and a participant.||: which ask the same questions to large numbers of participants or use Likert scales which measure opinions as numerical data.|
|Focus groups: with several participants discussing a particular topic or a set of questions. Researchers can be facilitators or observers.||: which can either involve counting the number of times a specific phenomenon occurs, or the coding of observational data in order to translate it into numbers.|
|Observations: On-site, in-context or role-play options.||: sourcing numerical data from financial reports or counting word occurrences.|
|Document analysis: Interrogation of correspondence (letters, diaries, emails etc) or reports.||: testing hypotheses in laboratories, testing cause and effect relationships, through field experiments, or via quasi- or natural experiments.|
|Oral history or life stories: Remembrances or memories of experiences told to the researcher.|
Research methods are the strategies, processes or techniques utilized in the collection of data or evidence for analysis in order to uncover new information or create better understanding of a topic. There are different types of research methods which use different tools for data collection.
Gathers data about lived experiences, emotions or behaviors, and the meanings individuals attach to them. It assists in enabling researchers to gain a better understanding of complex concepts, social interactions or cultural phenomena. This type of research is useful in the exploration of how or why things have occurred, interpreting events and describing actions.
Qualitative research refers to any research based on something that is impossible to accurately and precisely measure. It uses methods such as interviews, open-ended questions, participant observations, case studies, focus groups, etc. to identify patterns, themes, and features. These factors cannot easily be reduced to numbers. Qualitative research is common in the social sciences.
Gathers numerical data which can be ranked, measured or categorized through statistical analysis. It assists with uncovering patterns or relationships, and for making generalizations. This type of research is useful for finding out how many, how much, how often, or to what extent. This research based on something that can be accurately and precisely measured might also be referred to as "empirical research."
Pro tip: Statistical analysis in an article usually indicates quantitative research. Check the articles you find to see if some sort of numerical measuring and statistical analysis is present along with the characteristics listed below.
Integrates both Qualitative and Quantitative Research. It provides a holistic approach combining and analyzing the statistical data with deeper contextualized insights. Using Mixed Methods also enables Triangulation, or verification, of the data from two or more sources.
Finding Mixed Methods research in the Databases
"mixed model*" OR "mixed design*" OR "multiple method*" OR multimethod* OR triangulat*
Usually focuses on a single, well-defined research question and seeks to comprehensively gather all existing studies that address this research question.
Takes the results of several existing quantitative studies and analyzes them in a new way. Meta-analysis looks for previously unnoticed patterns or trends among existing study results or seeks to pull out new data from them. Meta-analysis is usually considered another form of quantitative research.
Also known as a review article, is an article whose sole purpose is to provide an overview of previous important research on a particular topic. Although valuable to researchers, literature reviews are not considered primary research. However, they can help you identify research trends and major articles published on a topic. No new study is conducted in a true literature review.
Readers of medical research studies should be aware of the potential for bias and should critically evaluate the study design and methodology before drawing any conclusions from the results.
Bias in medical research studies can occur at any stage of the research process, from the design of the study to the interpretation of the results. It can arise from a variety of factors, including the researchers' own beliefs and expectations, the way the study is conducted, and the characteristics of the study participants.
Here are some of the most common types of bias in medical research studies:
Bias can have a significant impact on the results of medical research studies. It can lead to overestimates or underestimates of the true effect of a treatment or intervention, and it can make it difficult to compare the results of different studies.
Here are some things that researchers can do to reduce bias in their studies:
Tenny & Abdelgawad (2022) explain statistical significance in medical research in their peer-reviewed article. Statistical significance tells us how likely it is that a study's findings are true, considering the acceptable level of uncertainty. Breaking down a study's design helps us grasp this concept better. Read their work to fully understand the importance of a study's statistical claims.
Tenny, S., & Abdelgawad, I. (2022). Statistical significance. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459346/