A Clinician’s Guide to Critically Appraising Randomized Controlled Trials in the Field of Speech-Language Pathology

Cara Donohue, Giselle Carnaby, Kendrea L. Garand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: When considering original research articles, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provide the highest level of research evidence. Given this, RCTS are often used by clinicians performing evidence-based practice to determine the most effective intervention for a specific patient or patient population. Although RCTs represent a high level of research evidence, it is important for clinicians to critically appraise RCTs to determine the validity of the study methods deployed, the statistical and clinical significance of treatment effects, and whether or not the results generalize to a particular patient, patient population, and/or clinical setting. Therefore, this tutorial will provide clinicians with an overview of what an RCT is, the various types of RCTs, when RCTs are appropriate to conduct and/or use to inform clinical practice, and the advantages and limita-tions of RCTs. Additionally, this tutorial will provide clinicians with practical tools to employ when reading an RCT, including checklists with questions, definitions of important terminology frequently used in RCTs, and demonstrations of how to critically appraise RCTs using literature examples from the speech-language pathology literature. Conclusions: Learning how to interpret and apply the results from RCTs to inform clinical practice for purposes of improving patient care is a critical evidence-based practice skill for clinicians to develop. This tutorial will assist clinicians in the field of speech-language pathology by furthering their fundamen-tal knowledge of RCTs and by providing them with pragmatic tools to critically appraise RCTs to inform their clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-425
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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