If reading research is new to you, consider the following questions as you read:
- What is the study’s objective/hypothesis/question?
- What is the rationale and relevance of the question? (i.e. why was the study done?)
- What is the relevance of this topic/question to Emergency Medicine? (i.e. is it urgent or essential reading for an Emergency Medicine practitioner?)
- What methodological approach (design, analysis, etc.) has been used? (i.e. what was done?)
- What were the results of the study? (i.e. what did the investigators find?)
- What were the strengths & weaknesses of this study? Are the results valid? (i.e. its study design, appropriateness of the method(s), relevant study group, sufficient sample size, appropriate study conduct, data gathering, subject follow – up, influences of bias, method of analysis, discussion, current relevance and comprehensiveness of the listed references, etc.)
- Do the conclusions follow logically from the design and results?
- How do the results relate to current practice and how might they influence future practice? (i.e. what does the answer mean anyway? So what and who cares?)
There is a series of articles by JAMA which describe how to read and understand research in more detail.