by Ruolin Li (ERASMUS) and Sebastian Zanner (SDU)
The Critical Appraisal Training Course was hosted by Prof. Andrea Burden at ETH Zurich, Switzerland and had Prof. Stefan Weiler (ETH) as a guest speaker.
The workshop ran virtually over 3 days, focusing on “Critical appraisal in pharmacoepidemiology research literature”. The course was a combination of lectures and application. Particularly, we were encouraged to apply concepts to approach epidemiology articles during class exercises. Each day we were trained in a format consisting of web-based “in class” teaching and “out of class” time to work on different articles and assignments in groups. We learn the advanced principals behind clinical pharmacoepidemiology including study design types, common flaws, biases and how to avoid them. We also approached real-world data regulation and interpretation in epidemiology research. We could practice these new gained skills using different articles which show minor or major biases and flaws. On the last day we were assigned group work to give a presentation on one article which strengthened the learned material and let us see how other groups approached the articles. Guest speaker Dr. Stefan presented the impact of observational studies in his work at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and closed the course on day three. Afterwards, the course ended with a lively discussion about food from different cultures, drinks, and recommendations for travel destinations. We all enjoyed the course a lot and the feedback was consistently positive!
In brief, this course showed many of us the first steps to observational research. This will help us in the future to approach articles about clinical data and create awareness of major flaws and biases. This will be useful for all of us independently on the background and future work within a research.