The enhancement of the scientific process and transparency of observational epidemiology studies

Background

On September 24-25 2009 ECETOC organised a workshop in London aimed at strengthening the scientific process of observational epidemiology studies. The workshop was attended by invited epidemiologists from industry and academia.

Outcome

The main outcome of the workshop was the endorsement of an Observational Epidemiologic Studies Register (OSR) which will greatly strengthen the transparency and reliability of this type of research and will also increase the scientific rigor applied in this area. The idea of setting up an OSR came from clinical trials research on the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals in treating diseases, where such a register has been established several years ago. There was near unanimous agreement that the advantages of an OSR far outweigh the disadvantages and the participants agreed to further disseminate the initiative.

Publications

The report of the workshop is available at the ECETOC website (Workshop Report 18).

Several interesting spin-offs of the workshop can be mentioned. The Lancet and the British Medical Journal have both published commentaries on the workshop which were supportive of the ECETOC initiative proposing the establishment of an OSR and emphasising the advantages expected. Lancet recommends researchers to register their observational studies at a WHO-compliant registry and to provide a link to the original protocol in the publication. Editors of several other epidemiology journals have expressed an interest in the workshop and are considering to further address the initiative in their journals.

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