7.4. Critical appraisal of observational studies


Unlike systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, diagnostic studies and guidelines, the methodological research community has less agreement on which items to use for the quality appraisal of cohort studies, case-control studies and other types of observational evidence. The Dutch Cochrane Centre has a few checklists available (http://dcc.cochrane.org/beoordelingsformulieren-en-andere-downloads), but these are written in Dutch and were not formally validated. For the evaluation of prospective, non-randomized, controlled trials, the Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias Tool can be used. Other checklists can be found at: http://www.unisa.edu.au/Research/Sansom-Institute-for-Health-Research/Research-at-the-Sansom/Research-Concentrations/Allied-Health-Evidence/Resources/CAT/. GRADE also offers a number of criteria that can be used to judge the methodological quality of observational studies. These are further explained in the chapter on GRADE.

Mainly based on the checklists of SIGN and NICE, the KCE elaborated two new checklists for cohort studies and case-control studies (see attachment).

Cohort studies_template.docx49.9 KB
Case-control studies_template.docx48.3 KB