Grade I: Good—The evidence consists of results from studies of strong design for answering the question addressed. The results are both clinically important and consistent with minor exceptions at most. The results are free of serious doubts about generalizability, bias, and flaws in research design. Studies with negative results have sufficiently large sample sizes to have adequate statistical power.
Grade II: Fair—The evidence consists of results from studies of strong design answering the question addressed, but there is uncertainty attached to the conclusion because of inconsistencies among the results from different studies or because of doubts about generalizability, bias, research design flaws, or adequacy of sample size. Alternatively, the evidence consists solely of results from weaker designs for the questions addressed, but the results have been confirmed in separate studies and are consistent with minor exceptions at most.
Grade III: Limited—The evidence consists of results from a limited number of studies of weak design for answering the questions addressed. Evidence from studies of strong design is either unavailable because no studies of strong design have been done or because the studies that have been done are inconclusive due to lack of generalizability, bias, design flaws, or inadequate sample sizes.
Grade IV: Expert Opinion Only—The support of the conclusion consists solely of the statement of informed medical commentators based on their clinical experience, unsubstantiated by the results of any research studies.
Grade V: Not Assignable—There is no evidence available that directly supports or refutes the conclusion.
Adapted from: Greer N, Mosser G, Logan G, Wagstrom Halaas G. A practical approach to evidence grading. Jt Comm. J Qual Improv. 2000; 26:700-712.