Contextual Questions to Consider When Evaluating New Scientific Information

Source: Adapted from: Nelson DE, Brownson RC, Remington PL, Parvanta C (eds). Communicating public health information effectively.

Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 2002.

• Have findings been included in a scientifically credible


• Are these findings preliminary?

• Are these new findings, or have they been previously reported?

• How do they compare with previous research? (If findings  

are different, why should these results be considered more

believable than prior research?)

• How certain is it that the results are not due to chance?

• What are potential alternative explanations?

• Can these results be generalized to other populations?

• What are the limitations of these findings?

• What is potentially missing?

• Should judgment be withheld until more evidence is available

(e.g., completion of other studies)?

• What do other scientific experts in the same field say about

these findings?