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Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) in Veterinary Medicine: Applying Evidence in Clinical Practice

Brennan, Marnie L.; Arlt, Sebastian P.; Belshaw, Zoe; Buckley, Louise; Corah, Louise; Doit, Hannah; Fajt, Virginia R.; Grindlay, Douglas J. C.; Moberly, Heather K.; Morrow, Lisa D.; Stavisky, Jenny; White, Constance

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Sebastian P. Arlt

Zoe Belshaw

Louise Buckley

Hannah Doit

Virginia R. Fajt

Douglas J. C. Grindlay

Heather K. Moberly

Jenny Stavisky

Constance White


Critically appraised topics (CATs) are evidence syntheses that provide veterinary professionals with information to rapidly address clinical questions and support the practice of evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM). They also have an important role to play in both undergraduate and post-registration education of veterinary professionals, in research and knowledge gap identification, literature scoping, preparing research grants and informing policy. CATs are not without limitations, the primary one relating to the rapid approach used which may lead to selection bias or restrict information identified or retrieved. Furthermore, the narrow focus of CATs may limit applicability of the evidence findings beyond a specific clinical scenario, and infrequently updated CATs may become redundant. Despite these limitations, CATs are fundamental to EBVM in the veterinary profession. Using the example of a dog with osteoarthritis, the five steps involved in creating and applying a CAT to clinical practice are outlined, with an emphasis on clinical relevance and practicalities. Finally, potential future developments for CATs and their role in EBVM, and the education of veterinary professionals are discussed. This review is focused on critically appraised topics (CATs) as a form of evidence synthesis in veterinary medicine. It aims to be a primary guide for veterinarians, from students to clinicians, and for veterinary nurses and technicians (hereafter collectively called veterinary professionals). Additionally, this review provides further information for those with some experience of CATs who would like to better understand the historic context and process, including further detail on more advanced concepts. This more detailed information will appear in pop-out boxes with a double-lined surround to distinguish it from the information core to producing and interpreting CATs, and from the boxes with a single line surround which contain additional resources relevant to the different parts of the review.


Brennan, M. L., Arlt, S. P., Belshaw, Z., Buckley, L., Corah, L., Doit, H., …White, C. (2020). Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) in Veterinary Medicine: Applying Evidence in Clinical Practice. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7, Article 314.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 6, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 26, 2020
Publication Date Jun 26, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 9, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 9, 2020
Journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Print ISSN 2297-1769
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number 314
Keywords Critically appraised topic (CAT); Knowledge summary; BestBETs; Evidence synthesis, evidence-based veterinary medicine; Veterinary medicine; Clinical practice
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Brennan ML, Arlt SP, Belshaw Z, Buckley L, Corah L, Doit H, Fajt VR, Grindlay DJC, Moberly HK, Morrow LD, Stavisky J and White C (2020) Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) in Veterinary Medicine: Applying Evidence in Clinical Practice. Front. Vet. Sci. 7:314. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00314
First published by Frontiers Media. Copyright © 2020 Brennan, Arlt, Belshaw, Buckley, Corah, Doit, Fajt, Grindlay, Moberly, Morrow, Stavisky and White. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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