Term: Levels of Analysis / Levels of Evidence

Levels of Analysis is not a difficult term to deconstruct. Generally, levels of analysis refers to the varying layers of study on a given subject progressing from a broad basic view that may or may not be well substantiated to an increasingly specific and detailed view of a given subject as more and more information is gathered. The less testing and information there is to back up a concept or hypothesis, the lower said item's level of analysis. The higher the level of analysis the more evidence and documentation there is to support a practice or theory. An example of the highest level of analysis is the Cochrane Database. Whereas the Cochrane Database is backed up by multiple studies and is generally accepted as the most up to date source of evidence based medicine, the inverse would probably be a single doctor's preference to a procedure or medication based on his personal experience or preference.
On the FSU website a grade of recommendation is divided up into five grades: "a" through "d." "A" being recognized as great, with "D" inversely on the bottom of the scale. These five grades are also divided into ten different levels of evidence within this scale. By thusly dividing things up it is easier for doctors to judge how much attention they should pay to a treatment.

This term is used broadly in various medical fields ranging from psychology to general practitioners.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:
  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Cochrane Database
  • Levels of Evidence

Levels of Analysis is often depicted as a pyramid where less useful and possibly older information forms the base and newer more useful specific and in depth information (obviously not in as great a supply) is represented in the receding levels of the pyramid on up to its peak.