DISCERN consists of 15 questions plus an overall quality rating. Each question represents a separate quality criterion - an essential feature or standard that is an important part of high quality information or treatment choices. The questions are organised in three sections.
DISCERN should be used in its entirety. You must not use individual questions or sets of questions separately. However, occasionally, a question is not appropriate for a publication, (for example, the question about treatment options would not be appropriate for a publication about labour and birth.) Please use your judgement to exclude a question that is not relevant. You will find it easiest to read the publication fully before answering the DISCERN questions.
questions 1 - 8
Address the reliability of the publication and should help you consider whether it can be trusted as a source of information about treatment choices.
questions 9 - 15
Focus on specific details of the information about treatment choices, apart from question 14, the questions concern the treatment choice or choices described in the publication, and not all possible treatment choices. Questions 9 to 11 concern the 'active' treatments described in the publication and can include self-care. 'No treatment' options are addressed in question 12.
This is the overall quality rating. Your answer to this question should be based on your judgement of the quality of the publication as a source of information about treatment choices after you have answered each of the 15 preceding questions.
The rating scale
Each question is rated of a five point scale ranging from 'No' to 'Yes'. The rating scale will help you decide whether the quality criterion has been fulfilled by the publication.
- Score 5 if your answer is a definite 'yes' - the quality criterion has been completely fulfilled.
- Score 2 - 4 (partially) if you feel the publication meets the criterion to some extent. How high or low you rate 'partially' depends on our judgement of the extent of these shortcomings.
- Score 1 if the answer to the question is a definite 'no' - the quality criterion has not been fulfilled at all.
Hints and guidance
The hints after each question suggest things to consider when deciding your response to a question. They are just a guide and our own judgement is also important. The rating process is clear-cut for most questions, although more subjective decisions may occasionally be needed.
The additional guidance for rating each question includes examples of 'yes', 'partially' and 'no' ratings. These examples are fictitious and any resemblance to a real publication is coincidental.