Department of Urology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
Research using existing data collected for other purposes, also known as secondary data analysis, is becoming increasingly popular in pediatric urology, yet has significant issues with interpretation. This article reviews some of the current data being presented in a critical manner and provides insight into appropriate interpretation.
There are numerous datasets available to pediatric urologists. These datasets allow investigators access to a large number of patients, which can lead to generalizable conclusions on a national level and can be performed in a time-efficient manner. However, investigators must be cautious when performing and interpreting such studies given the need for careful study design when using secondary data analysis. One must be sure that the dataset is well collected and valid, that it is an appropriate dataset with appropriate measures for the research question at hand, that the study population is adequately sorted from the overall dataset, and that appropriate statistical methods have been applied to minimize confounding and bias.
Secondary data analysis can help answer questions that are difficult to address due to feasibility of patient recruitment, time, and cost. The results can be informative and applicable. With careful attention to study design and methods, dataset and research question compatibility, and statistical issues, one can construct a study that is valid, robust, and generalizable.
Yiee JH, Copp HL. Are you the author?
Reference: Curr Opin Urol. 2011 Apr 15. Epub ahead of print.