Critically Appraised Topics for Healthcare Professionals - method and process (CATs)

So what is CATs

Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) are concise summaries of the best available evidence on a specific healthcare topic. These summaries are created through a systematic and critical appraisal of relevant studies to inform healthcare professionals about the current state of evidence on a particular subject. 

Understanding  how to format CATs to gain the best outcome:

Clearly state the topic of your CAT.

Provide a brief overview of the healthcare issue or question.  Highlight the importance or relevance of the topic.

Clinical Question:
Clearly define the clinical question you are addressing.  Use the PICO(T) format (Patient/Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, Time) if applicable.

Search Strategy:
Describe the databases and search terms used to find relevant studies.  Mention inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Critical Appraisal:
Summarise the key findings of the selected studies.
Evaluate the study designs, methodologies, and biases.
Discuss the level of evidence and quality of the studies.


Present the main results of the included studies.
Include any statistical measures or important outcomes.

Implications for Practice:

Discuss how the evidence can be applied in clinical practice.
Highlight any changes or recommendations for healthcare professionals.


Identify limitations of the studies included in the appraisal.
Discuss potential biases or confounding factors.


Summarise the overall findings.
Provide a clear answer to the clinical question based on the evidence.

Cite all the studies and sources used in your CAT.

Critical Reflection:
Reflect on the process of conducting the CAT.
Discuss any challenges faced or limitations in the available evidence.
Remember that the purpose of a CAT is to provide a quick and accessible summary of the best available evidence for healthcare professionals. The critical appraisal component is crucial in assessing the reliability and applicability of the studies to clinical practice.

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