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Evidence-Based Resources Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do the ratings mean?
All of the resources in this tool are based on intervention evaluations or studies that have evidence of effectiveness, feasibility, reach, sustainability, and transferability. The ratings indicate how strong the evidence is.

4 stars 
4 out of 4
These resources are based on rigorous evidence. Resources with this rating include systematic reviews of published intervention evaluations or studies that have evidence of effectiveness, feasibility, reach, sustainability, and transferability.

Examples: 

  • Recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force
  • Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Systematic reviews published in peer-reviewed journals

3 Stars 
3 out of 4

These resources are based on strong evidence. Resources with this rating include non-systematic reviews of published intervention evaluations or studies that have evidence of effectiveness, feasibility, reach, sustainability, and transferability.

Examples: 

  • Non-systematic reviews published by the Federal Government 
  • Non-systematic reviews published in peer-reviewed journals

2 Stars 
2 out of 4
These resources are based on moderate evidence. Resources with this rating include intervention evaluations or studies with peer review that have evidence of effectiveness, feasibility, reach, sustainability, and transferability.

Examples: 

  • Journal articles of individual studies
  • Published intervention research
  • Published pilot studies

1 Star 
1 out of 4
These resources are based on weak evidence. Resources with this rating include intervention evaluations or studies without peer review that have evidence of effectiveness, feasibility, reach, sustainability, and transferability.

Examples: 

  • Unpublished intervention research
  • Unpublished pilot studies
  • Unpublished case studies
  • Unpublished field-based summaries

What are the differences between the ratings?
4 vs. 3: A rating of 4 requires a formal, comprehensive, and systematic review of all relevant literature whereas a rating of 3 only requires an informal, non-comprehensive, non-systematic review of some but not all relevant literature.

3 vs. 2: A rating of 3 requires a review of multiple evaluations or studies whereas a rating of 2 only requires one evaluation or study.

2 vs. 1: A rating of 2 requires peer review whereas a rating of 1 does not require peer review.

What criteria were used to identify these resources?
Each of the selected evidence-based resources has been rated and classified according to the criteria in the rating system. These criteria include:

  • Is it a formal, comprehensive, systematic review?
  • Was it peer reviewed and published?
  • Does it include multiple evaluations or studies? 

The rating system does not measure all dimensions of quality. Some other measures that are not included in the rating system are:

  • Statistical significance
  • Effect size (e.g., magnitude of effect)
  • Meaningfulness of effect
  • Additional effect over control
  • Study design (e.g., sample size, power, internal validity, external validity, generalizability, potential biases, and potential confounders)

Can you define the types of resources displayed?
Systematic Review: A systematic review is a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that address a particular issue. Researchers use an organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic using a set of specific criteria. A systematic review typically includes a description of the findings of the collection of research studies. The systematic review may or may not include a quantitative pooling of data, called a meta-analysis. 

Nonsystematic Review: A non-systematic review is a critical assessment and evaluation of some but not all research studies that address a particular issue. Researchers do not use an organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic, possibly using a set of specific criteria. A non-systematic review typically includes a description of the findings of the collection of research studies. The non-systematic review may or may not include a quantitative pooling of data, called a meta-analysis. 

Randomized Control Trial: A randomized control trial is a controlled clinical trial that randomly (by chance) assigns participants to two or more groups. There are various methods to randomize study participants to their groups. 

Cohort Study: A cohort study is a clinical research study in which people who presently have a certain condition or receive a particular treatment are followed over time and compared with an