July 23rd, 2012
A Proposal To Improve The Value Of Observational Studies
I believe that observational studies can reveal important truths and have a critical place in the portfolio of clinical research. However, I sometimes wonder, when I see a study, just how it was conducted. Was the study question clearly defined before the analyses were begun…or did the study question emerge only after the investigator conducted many undirected analyses? In an Editor’s Perspective that I wrote, I question whether it would be useful to have journal’s require authors to disclose the methods history. Should they post their original study protocol in an online appendix? If the study was exploratory, should they disclose that intent? Would that help us better interpret the findings? I would be interested in your thoughts. I am Editor in Chief of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes and we are discussing whether we should require information about the methods history for each observational study that is submitted. We would benefit from hearing your thoughts. What should we do?
If you are interested in my Editor’s Perspective, please see http://circoutcomes.ahajournals.org/content/5/4/418.full