Thursday, December 30, 2010
"Evidence-Based Practice: A Strategy for Young Radiologists" by Jonathan Chung
Evidence-based practice has become the mantra in all fields of medicine. Gone is the blind reliance on expert opinion. Therefore, it is imperative to be able to analyze the medical literature critically. It would be irresponsible to base clinical decisions on data from faulty methodology. Though interpretive and interventional skills are included in all radiology training curricula, more often than not, the tools to dissect a research paper and determine its merit are quickly glossed over. It makes practical sense—when you are taking independent call in the ER, knowing the signs of tension pneumothorax on a chest radiograph is going to be a lot more useful to you than knowing how to identify bias in a study’s design. Most journal clubs I have attended are comprised of a few active individuals who have critically assessed the pertinent articles and a passive majority who have only quickly perused the literature—perhaps intimidated by the process of critical appraisal.
I would be the first to admit that I am a relative neophyte (compared to others with decades of experience) when it comes to how to read and analyze a paper. However, I have found that just like anything else, the best strategy is a consistent and systematic approach. The authors of a recent paper in the Resident’s Section of the AJR present their own strategy on how to read and appraise a research paper. In recent months, I have referred back to this article multiple times. I hope you will find it useful as well.