The Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) was established in 1999 by Helen Thomas and Dr. Donna Ciliska of the McMaster University, School of Nursing. Their team of researchers produced systematic reviews and other high quality evidence products for public health practitioners and decision makers. EPHPP has also been involved in the production of numerous resources focused on research methods and tools involved in synthesizing and appraising research evidence.
In 2010, the Effective Public Health Practice Project and McMaster Evidence-Based Practice Centre combine their vast expertise in the conducting of systematic reviews to the establishment of the McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Team (MERST). The team worked as the evidence centre that supported the work of the Canadian Task Force for Preventive Healthcare providing evidence reviews which informed the clinical practice guidelines for primary care in Canada.
Quality Assessment tool for Quantitative Studies
Thomas, B.H., Ciliska, D., Dobbins, M., & Micucci, S. A process for systematically reviewing the literature: Providing the research evidence for public health nursing interventions. Worldviews on Evid Based Nurs. 2004; 1(3):176-184. PMID: 17163895
Armijo-Olivo, S., Stiles, C.R., Hagen, N.A., Biondo, P.D., Cummings, G.G. Assessment of study quality for systematic reviews: a comparison of the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias Tool and the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment tool: methodological research. J Eval Clin Pract, 2012;18(1):12-8. PMID: 20698919
This EPHPP “Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies” method and tool was developed for use in public health, and can be applied to articles of any public health topic area, including the promotion of family and sexual health and the prevention of chronic disease, injuries and substance misuse. Various types of public health professionals would find this tool relevant to utilize sources of high quality literature to support the decision-making process, especially when designing, implementing and evaluating public health programs and policy.
This knowledge translation and synthesis method requires a group of four to six experts who can facilitate a process that includes generating a research question, searching for literature, appraisal of the literature, data extraction, and the synthesis and dissemination of results. This method requires a review team with at least one member having methodological expertise, and two members with subject expertise.
There are seven steps for using the EPHPP Quality Assessment Method or Tool
As described by Thomas et al. (2004), these steps are:
- Question formulation – to guide the review process and provide boundaries for the searching of the literature.
- Literature search and retrieval –electronic databases are searched with a series of terms organized around the topic of interest.
- Determining relevance criteria – to establish unique relevance criteria including a description of the population of interest, interventions, outcomes and study design (PICO).
- Assessment of literature for relevance and quality – independent assessment by two reviewers using established relevance criteria.
- Data extraction and synthesis – Data of relevance to the research question will be extracted from studies that have achieved the highest methodological rating. These findings are presented in a narrative synthesis. Meta-analysis is done when appropriate.Peer review of the report –the written report is scrutinized by external experts.
- Peer review of the report – synthesis of information and creation of a written report for peer review by five or more public health experts.
- Dissemination – involves active dissemination strategies in order to promote public health professionals use and uptake of the review results.