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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Literature Reviews in Medicine and Health

Overview of types of literature reviews

Randomized Controlled Trials

Cohort Studies

Case Control Studies

Diagnostic Studies


  • Was there a blind comparison with reference standard? (Gold Standard)
  • Was there a broad representation of patients?
  • Were both tests given to all patients?
  • Does the diagnostic test under assessment accurately distinguish between people who do and do not have the specific disorder?
  • Can I apply this valid, accurate diagnostic test to a specific patient?


  • Assess Liklihood ratios
  • Is the test reproducible?
  • Will patient care be better using this test?

Appraisal of Therapy Study


  • Were patients randomized to treatments?
  • Was there blinding? Patients, clinicians, study personnel?
  • Were groups similar at the beginning of the trial?
  • Was everyone who was initially enrolled accounted for at the end?
  • Did groups receive equal treatment other than the comparisons?


  • What are overall results?
  • Are results applicable to my patient or population?
  • What was the size of the Treatment effect? - Relative Risk, Odds Ratios, Numbers Needed to Treat
  • Were all relevant outcomes addressed?
  • Are benefits worth cost or potential harm?

Qualitative Studies

Systematic Reviews