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Abstract

The growing importance of evidence based practice is necessitating academics and clinicians to be able to make judgments about the quality of the body of research evidence pertaining to clinical questions. There are numerous critical appraisal tools to assist this process. These are mostly designed for specific research designs, and tend not to reflect the particular concerns of allied health professionals, such as accuracy of diagnosis, adequate description of intervention, and sensitivity and utility of outcome measures. This paper reports the findings of a study which sought expert opinion on the essential criteria for critical appraisal, and whether a generic critical appraisal tool could be developed for allied health use. A modified Delphi technique was used to identify experts, and determine key criteria. Fifteen Australian allied health professionals participated, and identified key criteria as clinical relevance, methodological robustness, statistical robustness, aims that are clearly stated and conclusions that are reasonable considering the results. In terms of the development of a generic critical appraisal tool for all research designs, the opinion was that to adequately deal with critical appraisal of qualitative and quantitative research designs within a generic tool would be challenging.

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