Critical evaluation: Learning outcomes

Last updated: Monday, July 16, 2018

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Assess the validity and usefulness of clinical trials. 
  • Describe the meaning of some common terms used to quantify the benefits and harms of a medicine. 
  • Outline how evidence from clinical trials is evaluated and applied by NHS prescribing committees.

You can download a PDF of the whole tutorial (without interactive elements such as the Learning Exercises).

You should allow 90 minutes to complete this tutorial, including the Learning Exercises.


This tutorial is aimed at hospital pre-registration pharmacists, and will help you achieve GPhC standards such as these:
  • A1.6  Make decisions which demonstrate clear and logical thought
  • A3.3  Select the best solution, based on sound analysis and appropriate evidence
  • A4.6 Base your actions, advice and decisions on evidence
  • A4.7 Obtain and process the evidence you need to meet A4.6
  • C2.1 Provide considered and correct answers to queries, founded on research-based evidence

If you are a foundation pharmacist, this tutorial may help you meet competencies from the RPS framework including:
  • 3.1 Gathering information (accesses information, up-to-date information)
  • 3.3  Analysing information (Appropriately identifies problems, synthesises and analyses information, logical approach, displays critical thinking, appraises options, decision making) 

Continuing professional development

Finally, here are some CPD activities you could consider:

★ When you see a patient prescribed a newly marketed medicine, search for the key clinical trials and practise evaluating one of them. Can you calculate an NNT and NNH based upon the data? Find out how much the medicine costs - do you think this represents good value for money?
★ Find out about the formulary application process in your Trust. Who can apply for a medicine to be added to the formulary? What happens after a medicine is approved? How is this information shared and who needs to know?
★ Shadow your critical evaluation pharmacist at a formulary committee or area prescribing committee meeting. Reflect upon the committee's decision making processes.