Utilization of critically appraised literature is the 3rd step in Evidence-Based Practice. Before evidence
can be integrated into clinical practice, the value of the evidence must be determined. Critically
appraised literature is important because of the vast quantity of information and the variability in the quality
of the information.
While there are various appraisal tools and worksheets available to appraise the literature, the basic premise involves answering three general questions:
Critical appraisal can be an informal endeavor where a clinician evaluates the quality of one
study, or it can be more formal with the development of Critically Appraised Papers (CAPs) and
Critically Appraised Topics (CATs).
CAPs provide an appraised summary of one individual study, whereas CATs are succinct manuscripts that attempt to answer a specific, focused clinical question that ultimately provides a clinician friendly source of evidence to aid clinical decision making and to identify areas of need for further research (McCluskey, 2004).
For an example CAT, please see
Valovich McLeod, TC. The effectiveness of balance training programs on reducing the incidence of ankle sprains in adolescent athletes. J Sport Rehabil. 2008;17:316-323.
More information about CATs is available at www.otcats.com and www.cebm.net.