Observational studies and their utility for practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Randomised controlled clinical trials are the best source of evidence for assessing the efficacy of drugs. Observational studies provide critical descriptive data and information on long-term efficacy and safety that clinical trials cannot provide, at generally much less expense. Observational studies include case reports and case series, ecological studies, cross-sectional studies, case-control studies and cohort studies. New and ongoing developments in data and analytical technology, such as data linkage and propensity score matching, offer a promising future for observational studies. However, no study design or statistical method can account for confounders and bias in the way that randomised controlled trials can. Clinical registries are gaining importance as a method to monitor and improve the quality of care in Australia. Although registries are a form of cohort study, clinical trials can be incorporated into them to exploit the routine follow-up of patients to capture relevant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-85
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Prescriber
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Clinical registries
  • Clinical trials
  • Observational studies

Cite this