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Evidence-Based Action Against COVID-19: A Debate on Whether Evidence from Observational Studies Does More Harm Than Good

When transforming SGIM’s shared values of justice and non-malfeasance (“do no harm”) into action against the COVID-19 pandemic, reliance on sound medical evidence is paramount. Throughout the pandemic, policies on prevention and management of COVID-19 have relied heavily on observational data. Such reliance, however, has become increasingly criticized and begs the key question: when transforming our values into action against COVID-19, do observational data do more harm than good?
To illustrate the tension between the two viewpoints, a large observational analysis found a substantial clinical improvement associated with convalescent plasma therapy, yet a small randomized controlled trial showed no significant difference, albeit a small, non-significant trend toward clinical improvement. In a session moderated by Dr. Mary Beth Hamel, a general internist and Executive Deputy Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, this debate features Dr. Andrew Althouse, a statistician and researcher at University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Rodney Hayward, a general internist and health services researcher from University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA.
Dr. Althouse defends the randomized data perspective and Dr. Hayward defends observational data for a generalist audience. Next, Dr. Hamel moderates the debate, touching on themes to enhance clinicians’ ability to interpret medical evidence. Scientific truth is increasingly vital for translating our shared values of justice and non-malfeasance into evidenced-based action.

CEU Available: 1.0 CME; 1.0 MOC
CEU Expires: April 30, 2024


To receive CME/MOC credit, you must (a) watch the video and (b) complete the short assessment. After these two steps are completed, you will receive a certificate.