Untapped Potential of Observational Research to Inform Clinical Decision Making: American Society of Clinical Oncology Research Statement.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, p.JCO2017726414 (2017)


ASCO believes that high-quality observational studies can advance evidence-based practice for cancer care and are complementary to randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Observational studies can generate hypotheses by evaluating novel exposures or biomarkers and by revealing patterns of care and relationships that might not otherwise be discovered. Researchers can then test these hypotheses in RCTs. Observational studies can also answer or inform questions that either have not been or cannot be answered by RCTs. In addition, observational studies can be used for postmarketing surveillance of new cancer treatments, particularly in vulnerable populations. The incorporation of observational research as part of clinical decision making is consistent with the position of many leading institutions. ASCO identified five overarching recommendations to enhance the role of observational research in clinical decision making: (1) improve the quality of electronic health data available for research, (2) improve interoperability and the exchange of electronic health information, (3) ensure the use of rigorous observational research methodologies, (4) promote transparent reporting of observational research studies, and (5) protect patient privacy.