Assignment Guidelines: Critical Review
Using the public health topic identified during assignment 1 (find it footnote), write a critical review of the literature, including evidence drawn from at least one systematic review. The focus 3 of this critical review should be to inform a key area of professional practice and so should represent a thorough and critical synthesis of the most recent and best evidence available, concluding with specific recommendations for practice.
Your work should include and cover the following sections/aspects and content (as shown and stated in the table below).
Section/aspect Content to cover Marks available
Introduction An introduction to the assignment that clearly states what the public health topic of focus is (please remember that this assessment task involves using the same public health topic identified for assessment 1) and how it is related to and important to consider for a key area of professional practice. If applicable to the public health topic of focus, the specific population and/or setting should be defined. The aim and purpose of the critical review in this assignment should be made clear. 15 Marks
Discussion A critical review of the identified literature is required in this section that is focused on the identified public health topic. The focus of this critical review regarding the identified public health topic needs to inform the key area of professional practice identified in the introduction.
There needs to be a thorough and critical synthesis of the most recent and best available evidence from the identified literature in this section. The identified and selected literature 40 Marks
needs to be a combination of quantitative studies, qualitative studies and at least one systematic review (which should ideally include a meta- analysis) and all identified and selected literature should be published in peer-reviewed journals. Please ensure that the identified and selected literature in this assignment does not include the study that you chose to focus on for the first assessment. This section will require critical interpretation of the evidence from the literature selected and the following two main elements should be covered:
(1) With a clear focus on the evidence drawn from the literature selected (quantitative studies, qualitative studies and at least one systematic review(s) (which should ideally include a meta-analysis), investigate whether the methods and results of the selected literature are sufficiently valid to be considered, taking into consideration the relevance of the evidence in relation to the public health topic and the key area of professional practice. Assessment of various quality criteria for the identified literature will be helpful here,
e.g. use of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklists (as appropriate), AXIS for cross-sectional studies, Evaluation Tool for Mixed Methods Study Designs, etc., introduced in Week 4 for the particular studies identified
(introduced in Week 7 for critical appraisal of systematic reviews).
The CASP checklists and other tools should not be used for their questions on which answers should be reported in the assessment, but rather as a guidance for assessment of the selected studies, i.e. how to critically look at a study with a focus on the validity of the methods and results - some aspects of the checklists, tools, etc. may not be necessary (applicable) to use in the assessment of the selected studies.
Please ensure that when focusing on the evidence drawn from the selected systematic review(s) (which should ideally include a meta-analysis), major characteristics of the selected systematic review(s) (which should ideally include a meta- analysis) are considered and focused on. For example, does it summarise primary research from observational or experimental studies, qualitative or quantitative data, what is the validity (and applicability) of the systematic review (which may include a meta-analysis) following the application of a critical assessment tool. For example, how exhaustive the search for selection of the studies was (databases, language(s), etc.), heterogeneity of the studies included in meta- analysis, publication bias for meta-analysis, etc.
(2) Comparisons of and/or contrasting findings emerging from the results of the selected studies (quantitative, qualitative, systematic review(s) (which should ideally include a meta- analysis) should be identified and evaluated in relation to the public health topic and the key area of professional practice. Furthermore, there should be consideration of key challenges that need to be considered when interpreting the evidence reviewed: a study’s position in the hierarchy of evidence and others, e.g. multi-component public health interventions, qualitative as well as quantitative approaches, observational or experimental design, ethical considerations, complexity and long-term nature of the interventions and outcomes, etc.
Implications Based on the critical review of evidence from the literature identified and selected regarding the public health topic in the preceding section, specific recommendations for practice arising from the evidence need to be clearly stated regarding the professional practice area identified. For example, make recommendations such as: identify research gaps or propose intervention(s) designed to influence individual behaviour, intervention(s) designed to influence social norms, project(s) designed to influence the physical/built environments or intended to influence the legal environment, etc. 20 Marks
Conclusion Effective summary of key points. 10 Marks
Presentation and Referencing High quality presentation that conforms to principles of academic writing and contains minimal errors in sentence construction, grammar and punctuation. The assignment followed appropriate academic conventions regarding in-text citations and referencing. 15 Marks
Learning outcomes assessed in this assessment
- Understand and critically interpret public health evidence, both quantitative and qualitative.
- Understand the basic principles of systematic reviews and meta analyses.
- Apply evidence to inform professional practice and decision making.