Characteristics of Believable Studies: Generalizability
Generalizability is perhaps the most important of the four characteristics. It
refers to the extent to which results from a study can be
reproduced in a setting that is reflective of general practice. Essentially, it begs the question, “What is
the likelihood that the results of a study are also obtainable in my own practice?”
For example, is the technology being investigated reflective of clinical practice or the research setting? If the latter,
would it be a stretch to imagine using the technology as effectively in practice?
A study’s generalizability is improved if it is multi-institutional,
large, and includes a broad spectrum of patients and physicians. Unfortunately, such studies are rare in the literature.
What we are getting at with generalizabilty is the concept of efficacy versus
effectiveness. Studies of efficacy often evaluate a technology as it is used
by specialists in idealized settings. In contrast, studies of effectiveness
examine the performance of a technology in general practice, and thus are more
valuable. There are fewer studies of effectiveness than efficacy in the literature.
Take Mini-Quiz #2 on the next page!
© 2005 by the Rector & Visitors
of the University of