Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of the current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. At American Family Physician, we ask authors to explicitly rate the strength of evidence supporting key recommendations on diagnosis and treatment whenever possible.
We realize there are various rating systems for levels of evidence described in the medical literature. Working with the editors of other leading primary care publications, we have developed a new system that rates the evidence from A to C. We ask that you use this system to rate key recommendations on diagnosis and treatment:
We expect that this system will encourage you to carefully consider the supporting documentation for the key recommendations you make. It may also prompt you to examine additional key sources of evidence-based recommendations, such as those outlined below. During the process of review and editing, our medical editors may ask you to rate certain statements according to this scale. If you have any questions about how to properly use it, please talk with the medical editor assigned to your manuscript.
In general, you should choose approximately three to seven key recommendations for your article. Do not choose statements that merely summarize research findings; choose important clinical recommendations that reflect the best available evidence. At a minimum, the summary table should include the recommendations and references. Comments to justify your choice of references are helpful to the editors.
For more information on how to apply these ratings, please see Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT): A Patient-Centered Approach to Grading Evidence in the Medical Literature, an explanatory article published in the February 1, 2004, issue of AFP, as well as the algorithm for rating the strength of evidence(2 page PDF). You should create a summary table with the recommendations and references for each recommendation.
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Rating the Strength of Evidence