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The Levels of evidence is a tool that assists in prioritizing and validating the strength of the evidence provided in the research performed. It is generally performed in a pyramid shaped graph to elicit the weight of each measure. There are seven levels of evidence:
Level VII is the bottom of the pyramid. It is based on the opinion of committees or respected authorities. An example would be; one group of surgeons at a local hospital that developed a standard of care, such as, using a particular brand of post-operative dressings on the surgical sites to prevent infection.
Level VI is when research is developed for a qualitative study or a single descriptive study. An example would be; surgeons performed a study observing their patients surgical sites for signs and symptoms of infection and wound healing using a particular brand of post-operative dressing.
Level V is a systematic review of descriptive and qualitative studies are performed. It identifies the sample group and the control group that have different outcomes and looks for the exposure of interest. An example would be; the surgeons have two groups of patients that they are using the same brand of post-operative dressings on and attempting to identify if the sample group who has a history of diabetes has a longer healing rate or post op infection over the control group.
Level IV is the Cohort study that measures the sample group that receives the exposure of interest and a control group that does not. An example would be; the surgeons utilize the particular brand of post-operative dressing to the sample group and uses a non-descriptive post-operative dressing to the control group.
Level III is the quasi-experimental study. It is a controlled study without randomization. An example would be; that all the surgeons in the hospital utilize a particular brand of post-operative dressings on all post-operative patients regardless of the medical history, to determine the benefits of decreased risk of infection and a reduced healing time.
Leve II is a study where there is a randomized control trial performed at several different sites. An example would be; multiple hospitals in a city trial the particular brand of post-operative dressings on all surgical patients measuring their outcomes.
Level I is at the top of the pyramid and is considered the highest standard. It is a meta-analysis of all the relevant randomized controlled studies, consisting or three or more, that have similar results. An example would be; the company that brands the post-operative dressing performs randomized trail studies throughout a particular state on the effectiveness of the post-operative dressing, for the reduction in wound healing time and decreased infection rate.
Petticrew, H. (2009). Evidence, hierarchies, and typologies: horses for courses. Retrieved from https://www.cebma.org/wp-content/uploads/Petticrew…
Research Hub: Evidence Based Practice Toolkit: Levels of Evidence. (2017). Retrieved from https://libguides.winona.edu/c.php?g=11614&p=61584