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The Questions

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.

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.