Background: Systematic literature reviews identify, select, appraise, and synthesize relevant literature on a particular topic. Typically, these reviews examine primary studies based on similar methods, e.g., experimental trials. In contrast, interest in a new form of review, known as mixed studies review (MSR), which includes qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, is growing. In MSRs, reviewers appraise studies that use different methods allowing them to obtain in-depth answers to complex research questions. However, appraising the quality of studies with different methods remains challenging. To facilitate systematic MSRs, a pilot Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) has been developed at McGill University (a checklist and a tutorial), which can be used to concurrently appraise the methodological quality of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies.
Objectives: The purpose of the present study is to test the reliability and efficiency of a pilot version of the MMAT.
Methods: The Center for Participatory Research at McGill conducted a systematic MSR on the benefits of Participatory Research (PR). Thirty-two PR evaluation studies were appraised by two independent reviewers using the pilot MMAT. Among these, 11 (34%) involved nurses as researchers or research partners. Appraisal time was measured to assess efficiency. Inter-rater reliability was assessed by calculating a kappa statistic based on dichotomized responses for each criterion. An appraisal score was determined for each study, which allowed the calculation of an overall intra-class correlation.
Results: On average, it took 14 min to appraise a study (excluding the initial reading of articles). Agreement between reviewers was moderate to perfect with regards to MMAT criteria, and substantial with respect to the overall quality score of appraised studies.
Conclusion: The MMAT is unique, thus the reliability of the pilot MMAT is promising, and encourages further development.
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