March 2012 - Internet Resources Digest


Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) and Patient-oriented Evidence that Matters (POEMs)

Internet Resources Digest
March 2012

American International Health Alliance
LRC project

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CATs and POEMs

A critically appraised topic (or CAT) is a short summary of evidence on a topic of interest, usually focused around a clinical question. A CAT is like a shorter and less rigorous version of a systematic review, summarizing the best available research evidence on a topic. Usually more than one study is included in a CAT. POEM stands for “Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters”, a critically appraised POEM can be considered a synopsis of an article.

Collections of CATs and POEMs


BestBETsBETs were developed in the Emergency Department of Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK, to provide rapid evidence-based answers to real-life clinical questions, using a systematic approach to reviewing the literature. BETs take into account the shortcomings of much current evidence, allowing physicians to make the best of what there is. Although BETs initially had an emergency medicine focus, there are a significant number of BETs covering cardiothoracics, nursing, primary care and paediatrics. Over 1,000 CATs produced by their registrars but also by a worldwide group.

Archives of Disease in Childhood Archimedes

ADC ArchimedesArchimedes seeks to assist practicing clinicians by providing ‘evidence-based’ answers to common questions that are not at the forefront of research but are at the core of practice (format adapted from BestBETs).


JAAPA CATsCritically Appraised Toics from the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants

Eastman Institute for Oral Health - Critically Appraised Topics

Eastman Institute for Oral Health - Critically Appraised Topics Critically appraised evidence topics developed by first year residents as a requirement of a course in Evidence Based Dentistry.

UTHSCSA Dental School Oral Health CAT library

UTHSCSA Dental School Oral Health CAT libraryThis online library provides users with up-to-date evidence-based answers to focused clinical questions. Includes Clinical Cats videos.
The CATs are updated as new research is published.


Is the CAT dead? of CATs, POEMs and GRADE

Is the CAT dead? of CATs, POEMs and GRADE Blog author Carlos Cuello describes three definitions: POEMs, CATs and GRADE

Journal Articles

Kelly AM, Cronin P. How to perform a critically appraised topic: part 1, ask, search, and apply. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011 Nov;197(5):1039-47.

This article AJRoutlines the first three steps involved in performing a critically appraised topic for studies of diagnostic tests: Ask, formulate a question; Search, search the literature; and Apply, apply a level of evidence to the retrieved literature.

Kelly AM, Cronin P. How to perform a critically appraised topic: part 2, appraise, evaluate, generate, and recommend. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011 Nov; 197(5):1048-55.

This article outlines steps 4–7 involved in performing a critically appraised topic for studies of diagnostic tests: Appraise, Appraise the literature; Evaluate, evaluate the strength of the evidence from the literature; Generate, generate graphs of conditional probability; and Recommend, draw conclusions and make recommendations.

Rugh JD, Hendricson WD, Hatch JP, Glass BJ. The San Antonio CATs Initiative. J Am Coll Dent. 2010 Summer;77(2):16-21.

The dental school at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, has developed a program designed to teach students, faculty, and practitioners the skills of accessing the literature as an intrinsic part of treatment. The Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) program is described and evidence is presented showing that participants can be taught to prepare high-quality summaries of the literature pertinent to clinical problems. 

Khan OA, Dunning J, Parvaiz AC, Agha R, Rosin D, Mackway-Jones K. Towards evidence-based medicine in surgical practice: best BETs. Int J Surg. 2011;9(8):585-8. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

Int J Surg.„We have adopted an approach first pioneered in emergency medicine, namely the Best Evidence Topic or Best BET. Clinicians select a clinical scenario from their daily practice that highlights an area of controversy. From this, a three-part question is generated and this is used to search Medline and other appropriate databases for relevant papers. Once the relevant papers are found, these papers are critically appraised, the relevant data to answer the question is extracted, tabulated and summarised. A clinical bottom line is reached after this process. The resulting BETs, written by practising surgeons can then provide robust evidence-based answers to important clinical questions asked during our daily practice.“ 

Training materials

CATWalkCATwalk: A Guide to Critically Appraised Topics

CAT Maker

CATmakerCATmaker is a computer-assisted critical appraisal tool, which helps you create Critically Appraised Topics (CATs), for the key articles you encounter about Therapy, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Aetiology/Harm and Systematic Reviews of Therapy

Related AIHA Resources 

Critical Appraisal Tools. Health Resources Digest, December 2006

Critically Appraised Topics. Health Resources Digest, December 2005

Internet Resources Digest Forthcoming Topics [Provisional]

  • Telemedicine
  • Medical Wikipedias

If you have a suggestion for a Digest topic, or would like to contribute information about Internet resources, then please contact ibra[at]

Compiled by Irina Ibraghimova, PhD
Library and Information Management Specialist
HealthConnect  International

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