Critical appraisal for public health: a new checklist

Public Health. 2008 Jan;122(1):92-8. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2007.04.012. Epub 2007 Sep 4.


Objectives: There have been a number of attempts to develop critical appraisal tools, but few have had a public health focus. This paper describes a new checklist with public health aspects.

Study design: Review of previous appraisal instruments and pilot test of new checklist.

Methods: Criteria of particular reference to public health practice were added to well-established appraisal criteria. The checklist was piloted with 21 public health professionals, research staff or postgraduate students.

Results: The checklist is organized using the 'ask', 'collect', 'understand' and 'use' categories of the Population Health Evidence Cycle. Readers are asked to assess validity, completeness and transferability of the data as they relate to: the study question; key aspects of the methodology; possible public health implications of the key results; and the implications for implementation in their own public health practice. Of the 21 public health professionals that piloted the checklist, 20 said that they found the checklist useful and 18 would use it or recommend it in the future. Participants were prepared to commit to the majority of the questions, and there was good agreement with a consensus of 'correct' answers.

Conclusions: The public health critical appraisal checklist adds public health aspects that were missing from previous critical appraisal tools.

MeSH terms

  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Public Health / standards*
  • Research Design / standards*