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J Clin Epidemiol. 2010 Oct;63(10):1061-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.04.014.

A systematic review of tools used to assess the quality of observational studies that examine incidence or prevalence and risk factors for diseases.

Author information

1
Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. shaml005@umn.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To create a comprehensive evaluation of checklists and scales used to evaluate observational studies that examine incidence or prevalence and risk factors for diseases.

STUDY DESIGN:

We did a literature search of several databases to abstract format, content, development, and validation of the tools.

RESULTS:

We identified 46 scales and 51 checklists. Forty-seven of these tools were created for therapeutic studies, 48 for risk factors, and 5 for incidence studies. Forty-seven percent were modifications of previously published peer-reviewed appraisals, 18% were developed based on methodological standards, and 35% did not report development. Twenty-two percent reported reliability and 10% the validation procedure. Tools did not discriminate poor reporting vs. methodological quality of studies or external vs. internal validity; 35% categorize quality by the presence of predefined major flaws in design or by total score from the scale. Level of evidence was proposed in 22% of the tools by criteria of causality or internal validity of the studies. Evaluation required different degrees of subjectivity.

CONCLUSIONS:

Format, length, and content varied substantially across available checklists and scales. Development, validation, and reliability were not consistently reported. Transparent objective quality assessments should be developed in the future.

PMID:
20728045
DOI:
10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.04.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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