Re: should observational studies be a thing of the past?
Johnson, E.S. (2008) Re: should observational studies be a thing of the past? Epidemiologic Focus, 1. e3. ISSN 1944-3307
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Pritchard recently questioned the future use of observational studies after citing the superiority of results from randomized clinical trials regarding hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer incidence. In contrast, I do not believe that observational studies should be a thing of the past for several reasons. For example, some research questions cannot be answered with a randomized study design when the exposure of interest is a harmful one. Observational studies have served us well in the past over many important public health problems, especially with the occurrence of cancer from exposure to chemicals, radiation, and viruses. Where they fail, the important issue should be not to deride these studies as unsuitable, but to find out why they failed.
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