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Thinking Critically: Interpreting Randomized Clinical Trials

Sunday, September 4, 2016 to Friday, August 31, 2018
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This course seeks to fulfill the clinical community’s need to improve skills in the critical evaluation of clinical research papers. Competency in critical appraisal skills can have a significant impact by improving clinical practice, quality of research projects, and peer-review of manuscripts and grants. The course will utilize efficient and engaging videos with relevant clinical examples to cover essential research methodology principles. The online format will provide opportunities for self-paced learning and practicing critical appraisal of a variety of published studies that evaluate benefit, harm, and prognosis.


This course is designed for national and international physicians, medical researchers, residents, fellows, and allied health professionals in all specialties.


  • Release Date: September 4, 2015
  • Expiration Date: August 31, 2018
  • Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours
  • CME Credits Offered: 2.00
  • Registration Fee: FREE


  • Review the information below and complete the entire activity.
    • Complete the CME Post-test, CME Evaluation Survey, and CME Activity Completion Statement at the end of the activity.
    • You must receive a score of 75% or higher on the post-test in order to receive a certificate. You will have two attempts to answer each multiple-choice question (or one attempt for questions with only two options) to pass the post-test.
    • Once you attest to completing the entire online activity and have scored 75% or higher on the post-test, your certificate will be generated automatically and will be available on your Dashboard page.
    • Physicians will be awarded AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. All other participants will receive a Certificate of Participation.

*Participation in any content marked optional is not certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.


  • At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:
    • Analyze the concepts of randomization and blinding in reducing bias.
    • Develop strategies to critically appraise randomized clinical trials and determine if study results are valid.


  1. Introduction
  2. Key Design Concepts
  3. Analyzing Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT) Data
  4. Evaluating a Clinical Trial
  5. Course Wrap-up
  6. Resources and References
  7. Help!


The following planners, speakers and authors have indicated that they have no relationships with industry to disclose relative to the content of this activity:

  • Steven Goodman, MD, PhD, MHS
    Professor of Medicine and of Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology)
    Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research
    Stanford University School of Medicine
    Course Director
  • Rita Popat, MSPT, MS, PhD
    Clinical Associate Professor, 
    Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology)
    Stanford University School of Medicine
    Co-Course Director
  • Sarah Osmundson, MD
    Clinical Assistant Professor, 
    Obstetrics & Gynecology
    Stanford University School of Medicine
    Content Reviewer
  • Raymond Deng, MS
    Medical Student 
    Stanford University School of Medicine


  • Mike McAuliffe
    Stanford EdTech
  • Jim Neighbours
  • Greg Bruhns
    Stanford Online


  • Computer with Internet connection
  • Current version of Chrome, Firefox or Safari browser
  • You must have javascript enabled


The Stanford University School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Stanford University School of Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The California Board of Registered Nursing recognizes that Continuing Medical Education (CME) is acceptable for meeting RN continuing education requirements as long as the course is certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ ( Nurses will receive a Certificate of Participation following this activity that may be used for license renewal.


This activity received no commercial support.


California Assembly Bill 1195 requires continuing medical education activities with patient care components to include curriculum in the subjects of cultural and linguistic competency. It is the intent of the bill, which went into effect July 1, 2006, to encourage physicians and surgeons, CME providers in the State of California and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to meet the cultural and linguistic concerns of a diverse patient population through appropriate professional development. The planners and speakers of this CME activity have been encouraged to address cultural issues relevant to their topic area. The Stanford University School of Medicine Multicultural Health Portal also contains many useful cultural and linguistic competency tools including culture guides, language access information and pertinent state and federal laws.

You are encouraged to visit the portal:



If you are having technical problems (video freezes or is unplayable, can't print your certificate, etc.) you can submit a Help Request to the OpenEdX Team. If you have questions related to CME credit, requirements (Pre-test, Post-test, Evaluation, Attestation) or course content, you can contact the CME Online support team at


Guyatt GH, Rennie D. Users' guides to the medical literature. JAMA. 1993;270:2096-2097.

Guyatt GH, Sackett DL, Cook DJ. Users' guides to the medical literature II. How to use an article about therapy or prevention. B. What were the results and will they help me in caring for my patients? Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group.JAMA. 1994;271:59-63.

Guyatt GH, Sackett DL, Cook DJ. Users' guides to the medical literature. II. How to use an article about therapy or prevention. A. Are the results of the study valid? Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group. JAMA. 1993;270:2598-2601.

Oxman AD, Sackett DL, Guyatt GH. Users' guides to the medical literature. I. How to get started. The Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group. JAMA. 1993;270:2093-2095.

Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D; CONSORT Group. CONSORT 2010 statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomized trials. Ann Intern Med. 2010; 152(11):726-32.

Thinking Critically

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