Launching Effectiveness Research to Guide Practice in Neurosurgery: A National Institute Neurological Disorders and Stroke Workshop Report

This workshop addressed challenges of clinical research in neurosurgery. Randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) have high internal validity, but often insufficiently generalize to real-world practice. Observational studies are inclusive but often lack sufficient rigor. The workshop considered possible solutions, such as (1) statistical methods for demonstrating causality using observational data; (2) characteristics required of a registry supporting effectiveness research; (3) trial designs combining advantages of observational studies and RCTs; and (4) equipoise, an identified challenge for RCTs. In the future, advances in information technology potentially could lead to creation of a massive database where clinical data from all neurosurgeons are integrated and analyzed, ending the separation of clinical research and practice and leading to a new “science of practice.”