Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies
Professor Michael Abramson and Professor Carol Hodgson
This new Division serves as a methodological platform for researchers designing and conducting clinical trials and cohort studies. We aim to develop more efficient processes to conduct clinical trials and cohort studies within the School, by providing a consultancy service and assisting early career researchers with grant applications. We recognise the importance of consumer involvement in the planning and conduct of clinical trials and other types of studies.
Clinical research is medical research involving people. There are two types: observational studies and clinical trials. Cohort studies and clinical trials are common study designs in public health and clinical research. A cohort (or longitudinal) study involves following groups of people over time to observe associations between exposures (or risk factors) and the incidence of disease. A clinical trial evaluates new approaches to treat particular conditions, diseases (or therapies) to observe their feasibility, safety and/or efficacy. A critical difference from cohort studies is that the treatments are typically assigned at random (hence randomized controlled trials, RCTs) and there is often a control group that receives placebo or usual care.
Currently there are over 50 clinical trials and at least 26 cohort studies underway within the School. Further details can be found on the relevant websites.
A few examples of major clinical trials within the School that have influenced or are influencing clinical practice include:
- ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly)
- STAREE (STAtins in Reducing Events in the Elderly)
- POLAR-RCT (Prophylactic Hypothermia Trial to Lessen Traumatic Brain Injury)
Some examples of major cohort studies that have influenced health policy include:
- Healthwise (Health surveillance study in the aluminium industry)
- Health Watch study in the petroleum industry
- Hazelwood Health Study of the long-term health impacts of a coal mine fire
The School is also actively involved in training and upskilling researchers conducting clinical trials and cohort studies, with the introduction of the three-part, stackable short course, Clinical Trial Fundamentals.