Duke University oncologist Amy Abernathy says the policy shift towards more comparative effectiveness research presents some problems for researchers doing work in cancer, reports Scientific American's Katherine Harmon. The first problem, Harmon writes in the Observations blog, is that comparative effectiveness research focuses on broad populations of patients, but that oncology is about individual treatment. "Newly prioritized research might turn out new results about treatments that are best for most breast cancer patients with a defective HER2 protein, for example, but many other individuals with different genetic factors might still need trial-and-error treatment until research finds what works best for them," she writes. Another problem, she says, is that there aren't enough studies to add to the overall comparative effectiveness literature. Although focusing on the most medically and cost-effective treatment for patients is "a respectable goal," there isn't enough evidence to help physicians. Many clinicians and researchers are hoping that better data gathering and sharing "will soon fill in some of the blanks," Harmon writes.
Effectiveness of Comparative Effectiveness
Apr 22, 2010