Comparative effectiveness institute may lead to more pragmatic studies

What will it mean if advocates succeed in their lobbying for a Institute for Comparative Effectiveness Research? Aside from straightforward comparative effectiveness research, it's also likely to mean more "pragmatic" studies will get funding.

So-called pragmatic studies are ones where researchers perform clinical trials to discover which treatments are best for more typical patients with complex symptoms. In other words, they are not the traditional studies in which a more limited group of patients without complex problems is recruited to give straightforward answers about whether the medication or treatment works.

Some critics claim that such pragmatic studies are likely to produce such complicated data that traditional questions can no longer be answered. For example, a study may show that a surgery doesn't work to treat a problem, but it can't answer why, because there are simply too many pieces of information to sort through.

Likewise, pragmatic studies can get so large that they can never actually finish, much less have their data analyzed. On the other hand, if they can be designed correctly, they could give key information to doctors who are trying to decide on the best treatment for their "real" patient with complex symptoms.

To learn more about pragmatic studies:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece