research methods: CONSORT appraisal

The randomised controlled trial (RCT) is the ideal design for a study evaluating the effects of a treatment intervention on measured health outcomes. Of all invention study designs, RCTs provide the best support for causal inferences about treatment effects. However, the quality of usable evidence from an RCT depends also on how well the report is written. Evidence-based practice requires that research be reported clearly, thoroughly and accurately, enabling practitioners and policy-makers to judge how well the research was done, what the results were, and what they mean. Incomplete, inaccurate, poorly organised or ambiguous reporting makes it harder for readers to evaluate the quality of the actual research, casting doubt on its practical value. For example, if the report neglects to mention how bias was controlled, readers may wonder whether bias was controlled, and thus whether the results can be trusted.
The CONSORT statement is a checklist enabling evidence-based practitioners to evaluate the reporting quality of an RCT in a structured, systematic way, and thus a means to evaluate evidence quality. This assignment gives students a practical introduction to the CONSORT and how it assists them to critically evaluate a journal article report of an RCT. The assignment develops students’ understanding of journal article structure for research reports, and develops critical appraisal skills.A well-written journal article will have all of its required information explicit (i.e., actually stated) rather than implicit (i.e., not stated but can be inferred) or (worse) not stated at all.A well-written assignment will do the same. The writer makes everything necessary apparent to the reader.
TASKA research article reporting an intervention study will be available on vUWS. You are asked to evaluate the reporting quality of this report against selected criteria from the CONSORT statement for clinical trials. Also download from links on this page:The CONSORT checklist.Reporting quality guide – you may use this guide as well as or instead of the CONSORT checklist.A document template with sections to complete and submit as the assignment.The Resources folder on this page has extra materials, including a similar task for diagnostic studies and the STARD statement for reporting quality of diagnostic studies.

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