Retrospective Studies: A Fresh Look Purpose A first objective was to provide an overview of advantages and cautions around so-called retrospective clinical studies. A second objective was to provide guidelines for strong studies that can make a valid contribution to the clinical literature, whether these studies are prospective, retrospective, experimental, or observational. Method ... Clinical Forum
Clinical Forum  |   May 01, 2016
Retrospective Studies: A Fresh Look
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Katherine Verdolini Abbott
    Communication Science and Disorders, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Franca Benedicty Barton
    The EMMES Corporation, Rockville, MD
  • Lauren Terhorst
    Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Adrianna Shembel
    Communication Science and Disorders, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Katherine Verdolini Abbott: kav@pitt.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Carol Miller
    Associate Editor: Carol Miller×
Article Information
Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Clinical Forum: Record Reviews
Clinical Forum   |   May 01, 2016
Retrospective Studies: A Fresh Look
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2016, Vol. 25, 157-163. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-16-0025
History: Received February 16, 2016 , Revised February 23, 2016 , Accepted February 24, 2016
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2016, Vol. 25, 157-163. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-16-0025
History: Received February 16, 2016; Revised February 23, 2016; Accepted February 24, 2016

Purpose A first objective was to provide an overview of advantages and cautions around so-called retrospective clinical studies. A second objective was to provide guidelines for strong studies that can make a valid contribution to the clinical literature, whether these studies are prospective, retrospective, experimental, or observational.

Method Invited commentaries were solicited from statistical and study design experts.

Results The strength of a clinical study does not lie so much with its point in time relative to data generation, as it lies with study design. In fact, quite surprisingly, data collected in the past can be modeled to create a prospective study, if appropriate. One distinctive strength of observational studies—which are sometimes but not always retrospective—is the ability to obtain a large corpus of data from medical databases rapidly, as sometimes warranted by pressing health care policy and practice issues.

Conclusion Retrospective studies, often considered inferior to prospective, randomized, and controlled clinical trials, can have strength and validity often not recognized in the hierarchy of clinical data.

Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access