Comparative effectiveness: What’s it all about?

By Charles M. Turkelson, PhD

Comparative effectiveness is not a new idea; it is simply comparing two (or more) treatments to determine which is most effective. In terms of a controlled clinical study, this simply means comparing a treatment of interest to another treatment, instead of to a placebo.

Comparative effectiveness can be determined by asking several kinds of questions. Some questions compare similar treatments (competing drugs), while others focus on different treatment approaches (surgery versus drug therapy). Comparative effectiveness research might also ask which types of patients may benefit most from a particular therapy.

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