Understanding and evaluating veterinary clinical research

William Buhles, Philip H Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Results from investigations conducted in clinical settings contribute greatly to determining how veterinarians practice medicine. It is important for the practitioner to understand how clinical information is collected, analyzed, and communicated in journals and presentations at conferences. Clinical research is either retrospective in observational studies, looking at historical medical records as the source of data, or prospective in both experimental and observational studies, where the study is designed before any patients are included. Prospective, experimental studies provide the more reliable results, although they form a minority of published reports. Randomized, controlled trials are the most reliable format, and attempts should be made to use this design more often in veterinary medicine. Care must be taken in the conduct of clinical research to reduce sources of bias that can yield false findings, particularly in small, retrospective studies. Statistical analysis is the key to data interpretation, but must be applied appropriately to avoid either wrong assumptions or misconception. Regardless of how studies are conducted, it is important for the practitioner to be an astute reader of the clinical literature. An understanding of clinical research methods will result in better medical standard of care recommendations and practice. (J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2012; 48:285-298. DOI 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-5803)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-298
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Animal Hospital Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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