Balancing the Evidence: How to Reconcile the Results of Observational Studies vs. Randomized Clinical Trials in Dialysis SEMINARS IN DIALYSIS Shen, J. I., Lum, E. L., Chang, T. I. 2016; 29 (5): 342-346


Because large randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in dialysis have been relatively scarce, evidence-based dialysis care has depended heavily on the results of observational studies. However, when results from RCTs appear to contradict the findings of observational studies, nephrologists are left to wonder which type of study they should believe. In this editorial, we explore the key differences between observational studies and RCTs in the context of such seemingly conflicting studies in dialysis. Confounding is the major limitation of observational studies, whereas low statistical power and problems with external validity are more likely to limit the findings of RCTs. Differences in the specification of the population, exposure, and outcomes can also contribute to different results among RCTs and observational studies. Rigorous methods are required regardless of what type of study is conducted, and readers should not automatically assume that one type of study design is superior to the other. Ultimately, dialysis care requires both well-designed, well-conducted observational studies and RCTs to move the field forward.

View details for DOI 10.1111/sdi.12518

View details for Web of Science ID 000388438700003

View details for PubMedID 27207819

View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5014621