Public health is a major concern for governments, doctors, and patients. Ensuring proper treatment and application of medical procedures is in the essence of this concern. Thanks to the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) efforts, today we have the “Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies,” which allows experts to apply this tool to articles on any public health topics.

Understanding EPHPP and Quality Assessment Tool

Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies is a tool developed in Canada by the EPHPP with the financial support of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC). Development began as early as 1998, and it was a direct result of another public health initiative designed to bolster public health, named the Ontario Mandatory Health Programs and Service Guidelines (MHPSG of 1997). The tool was developed by four individuals that were leading the EPHPP project:

  • D. Ciliska
  • S. Miccuci
  • M. Dobbins
  • B.H. Thomas

The purpose of the initiative is simple enough. It is entirely focused on developing a method that can test and provide evidence to support public health inventions and researches. In its essence, this assessment tool is created to address articles in a wide range of health-related topics, from family and sexual health to fighting chronic diseases, injuries, and even substance abuse.

To reach a scientific conclusion, Quality Assessment Tool uses a number of factors along with opinions of select experts who meet pre-determined criteria. Once the assessment is fulfilled, each examined practice receives a mark ranging between “strong,” “moderate,” and “weak” in eight categories:

  • Study design
  • Analysis
  • Withdrawals and dropouts
  • Data collection practices
  • Selection bias
  • Invention integrity
  • Blinding as part of a controlled trial
  • Confounders

These categories are considered to be universally relevant to any health topic and can be approached with scientific determination as opposed to assigning and arriving at arbitrary results. More importantly, each participant takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete an assessment, which guarantees that more trained eyes can examine each individual article.

How so we know the evaluation is properly carried out?

The authors of the research methodology ensured that the tool meets several standards, specifically linked to the validity of the tool, the manner of evaluation, and readability. For example, to confirm readability, two individual studies were used with the reviewers assessing them independently and drawing the same conclusions.

Validity was established by assigning an independent team that was tasked with assessing whether the selection criteria guaranteed clarity and completeness. Also, whether the results drawn by individual researchers and experts were similarly based on the suggested methodology.

It has been concluded that the EPHPP tool has a very strong methodological rating, which allows it to be used to conduct assessments on public health articles.

Who carries out the assessment?

There are strict criteria as to who may carry out an assessment. As per the tool criteria, a group of four or six experts works together on a variety of issues. At this point, the select assessment experts will try and generate questions that pertain directly to the research, look for additional sources that prove or test the validity of the examined research. They are also responsible for the proper approach to how data is compiled, as well as results synthesis and dissemination.

Apart from the general responsibilities and knowledge background of the experts using the tool to assess the validity of public health articles, the EPHPP recommends that at least two of the experts have the necessary subject background whereas one of the individuals has the methodological expertise to conduct an assessment.

Lastly, each report will need to be reviewed by five individual medical experts known as peers in research terminology.

Tool implementation

For the successful implementation of the method, the authors have created a supplementary guide called “Dictionary for the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies.”

While this sounds like an unnecessary burden, this help document has proven an efficient way to verify individual articles on public health. The tool doesn’t specifically establish a standardized approach as to how it is used in a specific sequence of the actions required. However, what the EPHPP demands is to complete the full evaluation based on the criteria with the required number of experts present.

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