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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Sep 15;19(18 Suppl):2028S-2031S.

A brief introduction to the critical reading of the clinical literature.

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  • 1RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California.


Clinicians are bombarded by reports of new diagnostic tests or treatments for patients with spine problems. To provide the best possible patient care, clinicians need to be able to critically appraise the results of such studies for validity and relevance to patient care. Important questions to be asked of any description of diagnostic or treatment studies are the following questions: 1) Are the patients described in detail so that you can decide whether they are comparable to those that you see in your practice? 2) Are the treatments or assessments described well enough so that you could provide the same for your patients? 3) Was a clinically relevant endpoint measured? 4) Is there an appropriate comparison group? 5) Are potential sources of bias appropriately attended to? 6) Are the results clinically significant?

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