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In this issue of RAPM, Levy and colleagues provide an overview of several concepts related to the interpretation of associations from observational studies.1 Due to ethical considerations and high cost of clinical trials, observational studies continue to be used to inform practice and for policy decision-making. Such decisions may be as profound as determining how to prioritize vaccine administration in the midst of a pandemic. The problem is that the purported relationship between an exposure (ie, therapy/intervention) and health outcomes can potentially be distorted by a number of factors. While many of these issues are inherent to observational data, the good news is that a deeper understanding of these concepts can help mitigate incorrect interpretation.
The editorial board at RAPM commissioned the article and assured that it included diverse perspectives including that of a clinician, statistician, and student. We believe that topics related to epidemiology and statistics often get presented in a way not readily accessible to a clinical audience, making their relevance to our work opaque. At RAPM, we aspire to effectively communicate such principles and make them relevant (and exciting) to all consumers and producers of scientific writing. The degree to which we all have a better grasp of these concepts and strategies will hopefully translate into more informed decision-making and an appropriate perspective on timely clinical issues. We are eager for you to share this manuscript with your colleagues, friends, and patients. Thank you for all you do to make outcomes better for our patients!
Patient consent for publication
Contributors Both authors created this document.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests BDS is the Editor-in-Chief of Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine. MD is the Statistical Editor for Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.