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What is comparative effectiveness research (CER)?

Richard Ricciardi
Advanced Practice Nursing
That is a great question and one that is often asked by patients and the public. Comparative effectiveness research analyzes existing well designed clinical studies on a specific medical or surgical topic or medical device to inform health care professionals, patients and the public on the effectiveness, harms and risks of the specific treatments that are being compared.

In recent discussions surrounding healthcare reform, you may have heard the term comparative effectiveness research, or CER. CER is not a clinical trial and is not part of the FDA approval process. The idea behind CER is that researchers and scientists gather evidence and compare surgeries, medical devices, drugs, tests or healthcare services, and weigh the effectiveness, benefits and potential risks of each of these treatment options against one another. This evidence then helps physicians and patients determine what procedure, medication or treatment will be the most effective method to treat a condition. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.