So What? A Framework for Assessing the Potential Impact of Intervention Research

CDC: January 17, 2013

Journals are full of studies of interventions with results that are statistically “significant” but lack guidance on the real importance of the work (1). We suggest that articles concerning clinical or population-health interventions should be accompanied by structured information about the potential health impact. This information should incorporate well-established metrics to expedite the translation of highly effective interventions into practice and reduce undue attention to studies of lesser consequence.

Although there are compelling reasons to address rare and unusual health conditions, research resources and health care costs in many countries are at an economic breaking point, and there should be more recognition of investments that yield the greatest health improvement. The importance of studies could be more readily apparent by characterizing a few key dimensions, potentially shaping both the content of journals and the choice and design of studies. Those dimensions reflect a framework that examines the benefits and harms of an intervention as it is likely to be used in real-world practice, a framework that is as applicable to clinical management as it is to public health programs and policies. Here we outline these dimensions. Read more