Evidence, relevance and improving quality

These are topic areas we’ve been pondering lately as we put together the monthly Evidence Updates (if you’ve not heard about these, find out more here). The evidence updates started out as a snapshot of the literature each month – we’d scour through newly published articles, picking out those that seemed interesting, important for clinical practice, or that might be a little controversial to spark conversation – and there has been plenty of that! In essence, a neutral snapshot, including the good, the bad and the ugly of all study types, topics and quality. We’ve been doing these a few years now, and seen a huge increase in the volume and variety of publications coming out, making our job a little more complicated, but more interesting!

In 2018 we are striving to improve on quality in Physiopedia – check out this recent post by Physiopedia Trustee Rachael Lowe. With this in mind, we’ve been putting some thought into what should be included in the Evidence Updates to ensure they are relevant for you and reflect modern trends in the profession. We think this means prioritising articles that (as far as we can see) make a positive impact – focusing on treatment interventions, from higher quality studies that reflect the ever-evolving developments in clinical practice.

And herein lies our challenge. We risk confirmation bias in picking studies that support recent trends, or we risk giving you outdated research if we don’t. And we don’t have the answers as to what constitutes a ‘high quality’ study – systematic reviews, those with a thorough methodology? Thorough according to whom? Even ‘high quality’ studies can have misleading conclusions, and may not be applicable to your patient group, and systematic reviews are not always the most useful resource for informing clinical practice – it’s a minefield! Add to this that for many of the studies we don’t have access to the full text (although open access is improving all the time), or indeed the resources to critically appraise every article (we wish we did!) – a trade off in getting the information out to you when it really is hot off the press each month.

There’s no perfect solution, but we’ll be making our best effort. We won’t get this right all the time, and we really value your feedback along the way. If you spot something you don’t like then let us know! We are constantly trying to evolve our offering to make sure we get the most useful and clinically relevant information out to you each month. Then it’s over to your professional judgement to decide if it is appropriate to integrate into your own practice. So get in touch, stay in touch and help us along our quality improvement journey!