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Critical literature reading. Why ?. An appetizer presentation by. Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde Professor in Clinical Biomechanics , University of Southern Denmark Dept . of Research The Spine Center Hopsital Lillebælt Middelfart. Life is full of ” truths ”.

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Critical literature reading



An appetizer presentation by
An appetizerpresentation by

Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde

Professor in ClinicalBiomechanics,

University of Southern Denmark

Dept. of Research

The Spine Center

Hopsital Lillebælt


Life is full of truths
Life is full of ”truths”

In clinical science, many of themareuntrue.

The question is, howcanyouquickly and efficientlyuncover the truth?

Prevalence of low back pain according to the literature
Prevalence of low back painaccording to the literature

The prevalence rates in the Nordic literaturerangedbetween 3% and 79%.

Theycannot all have been right!

Reading articles is
Readingarticles is

Time consuming

Not fun

Oftenconfusing – youcannottake in all the details AND whenyoureadarticle #2 youforgetwhatwasimportant in article #1

An efficient method is the critical systematic literature review
An efficientmethod is the criticalsystematicliteraturereview

The process is boring

But whenyou have assembled all information it becomes FUN because, if done correctly, all relevant information is easilyaccessible and andthere is noneed to rememberanything

The idea
The idea

Get all relevant information


Look for information in the articleswithhelp of the check-lists

Trust onlyquality information

Gives you an overview

New publicationscan just beadded to the oldchecklistwith minimum effort


Read and enjoyonly the highqualityarticles!

If youread the poorqualityarticles, youwillsuddenlyseehowuntrustworthytheyare!

1 get all relevant information
1. Get all relevant information


Speak to a librarian

Set up a searchstrategy (searchmachines, search terms, language, years)

See whatyouget and do it again, but better


Order/download the relevant stuff

Bewellorganized and methodical

2 create three checklists
2. Createthreechecklists

Description of study

Quality of research method


Items in these checklists
Items in thesechecklists

Descriptive items to seeif the various studies arecomparable (and relevant to yourneeds)

Quality items are all thoseaspectsneeded in yourdiscipline to ensure a truthfulresult (e.g. absence of various types of bias and valid outcomesmeasures)

Resultscanbe multiple and confusing. Boil it down to what is relevant for you and try to usecomparableaspects

3 read it critically but only the method section
3. Read it criticallybut only the methodsection

However, do not read the article, look for relevant information

Start with the description of study and quality of research methods

Search for textbelonging to eachchecklist item this is quick (method and sometimesresultsections)

Note whether info thereor not be brief

Using the checklists
Using the checklists

Filling in data for the checklist is a bit tedious but fairlyquick

The poorer the quality of the study the more difficult to find the check list information in the text

Interpreting the checklistwhencompleted is:




Trust only quality information
Trust onlyquality information

Set up yourownpre hoc criteria for ”relevant” articles and for ”sufficientlyhigh” quality

Irrelevant orpoorquality studies – disregard

Mediocre studies – distrust

Good studies probably rare – trust

Welcome to the group of experts
Welcome to the group of Experts

Nowyoureallyknowwhatyouaretalking of!