Clinical Studies

Researchers in human (and veterinary) medicine are always on the lookout for new that will improve their ability to bring better health to patients.

For each one, they must establish whether it truly represents an improvement from what was used before.

Retrospective Studies

In a typical retrospective study, Retrospective studies are also called "case-control" studies.
Link to an example of a retrospective study.

Retrospective studies run the risk of investigator bias; that is, the investigator picks subjects that are most likely to show the effect that prompted the study in the first place.

Prospective Studies

A prospective study selects a population in good health and meeting any other desired criteria (e.g., smoking habits) and follows it over a period of years to see what happens to its members.
Link to an example of a prospective study.

Prospective studies are also known as "cohort studies".

Clinical Trials

Where it is possible to do them, clinical trials represent the "gold standard" for evaluation. In performing a clinical trial (e.g. of a new, and possibly better, drug), the investigator

Analyzing the Data

The data acquired in any type of clinical study must be evaluated to see if any effect seen is significant.
Link to a page describing some statistical methods for doing this.
Link to a page describing the stages of testing that new drugs must go through before they are approved for use.
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7 July 2003