What Does a Comparative Effectiveness Researcher Do?

researchComparative effectiveness researchers play a vital role in the research and development of new medications and therapeutic techniques.

As an integral part of the healthcare industry, the research they handle and conduct is of prime importance to the development of drugs that are on target with market needs. Additionally, consumers rely on findings produced and disseminated by such researchers, to which they would not otherwise have access.

Breaking Down the Role

These researchers provide information about the efficacy, dangers, and benefits of treatment options in order to both inform pharmaceutical manufacturers and advise consumers, so that they may make informed choices about their healthcare. There are generally two ways in which researchers compile their findings.

1. They review the existing data available for different groups of people from previously conducted clinical trials, and compile any other research pertinent to their focus.

2. They conduct novel research designed to explore the efficacy of a given health care option, medicine, test or procedure in order to derive original evidence. Upon this evidence, they then level an assessment intended to inform consumers, drug companies or health care professionals (http://www.npcnow.org/issues/comparative-effectiveness-research).

Comparative researchers utilize a broad range of sources and techniques of analysis to arrive at their final assessment. But their role doesn’t end with analysis. They then synthesize their findings into a format that is readily understandable and useable by consumers, health care workers, policy makers, and insurance companies. This career requires that a researcher be able to

• Take note of new methods and treatments emerging in medicine

• Review and digest current research available

• Generate novel research and tools of analysis

• Note gaps in current theory and practice

• Train researchers to perform clinical analysis

• Render findings intelligible to all interested parties

• Communicate findings with strong interpersonal skills

Seeing the Need

Some might question why such a profession is even needed, but if the issues are clearly examined, the need becomes manifest. Comparative effectiveness researchers act as bridges between the healthcare industry and the consumer public. As well, they act as interpreters of complex and sometimes confusing scientific language. Their roles in both interpreting existing research and generating new data require that they be trained in hard science applications and statistical interpretation necessary to engage in quantitative and qualitative analysis. And yet, they must also be proficient in the language arts and anthropology, because they must know how to best present their findings to various groups of people with different needs and agendas.

People who engage in such research are vital for several reasons. They often act as a barrier between potentially harmful treatment options and an unsuspecting consumer public. When such research is not conducted to answer questions about efficacy or potential negative aspects of a treatment option, this constitutes bad science and negligence. Given this consideration, it is hardly surprising that there are career opportunities in both public sector and private sector applications.

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