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Clinical Evidence Made Easy

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Title: Clinical Evidence Made Easy

Authors: M Harris, G Taylor and D Jackson

Publisher: Banbury: Scion Publishing Limited

Reviewer: Ed Shields, nurse lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

What was it like?

Anyone with an interest in evidence based practice, and in testing the strength of evidence, will find this an interesting and useful book. The “Made Easy” part of the title is delivered; the book is easy to read and understand. The authors expect that readers will be helped to evaluate evidence and to decide if their practice should change. Between them, the authors have a mixture of professional credentials; GP/Research Fellow, Reader in Medical Statistics and Senior Research Fellow in Medical Statistics. They deal with the importance of asking a sufficiently precise question and planning a search. They also give some useful advice to those who have developed the habit of reading only the abstract and conclusions part of a paper. The second part of the book, “Clinical evidence at work”, consists of appraisal tools, designed by the authors to help readers evaluate research papers. These will be useful to less experienced critical readers in helping them to develop a systematic approach to evaluating evidence.

Overall, this book will be useful to students, of whatever discipline, and might also be a useful reference point for more experienced people too.

What were the highlights? 

Many will find the “Example” boxes and the use of “Figures” (diagrams) helpful in illustrating how some of these concepts can be applied the real world.  They extend understanding.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The authors state that they assume no prior knowledge of methodologies or analysis on the part of readers and this means the book is simply and clearly written, with ample use made of easy-to-understand clinical examples. To that extent, the book will be useful to people who are a little intimidated by this topic area. More experienced practitioners may possibly find less use for the book but, it is not aimed at this audience. The book focuses more on qualitative methodologies so anyone with more of an interest in qualitative methodologies might find less here (although Chapter 12 deals with qualitative research).

Who should read it?

The foreword suggests that this book helps provide the skills and tools to empower readers to make better sense of clinical evidence; it is aimed at “busy clinicians” and “those engaged in research”.  The authors themselves aim the book at healthcare professionals who need to understand and appraise evidence. It is also suggested that those who need to plan and deliver projects might find the book helpful. Primarily, I think the book will be useful for anyone who is interested in evidence based practice and who wants to be able to read published research papers and to pose appropriate questions of them.

Clinical evidence made easy

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