Nurses' Health Study Meets Many Criteria for Success

Metrics for evaluating large cohort studies measure discovery, development and delivery factors

WEDNESDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- The long-running Nurses' Health Study (NHS) has been successful in terms of three purposes of epidemiology -- discovery of information, development of control and prevention strategies, and delivery of findings -- according to a commentary in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the article, Graham A. Colditz, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Deborah M. Winn, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., offer criteria for evaluating large cohort studies. Metrics for evaluating discovery include number of journal articles; metrics for development include determining factors causing disease in populations and contributions to risk models; and metrics for delivery include public awareness of the research.

The authors write that the NHS led to many dozens of publications in high-impact journals in the first 28 years of follow-up, though publications in the first 10 years were relatively sparse. In terms of development, its data contributed to American Cancer Society recommendations for reducing intake of alcohol and red meat. And in terms of delivery, NHS findings linking higher vitamin A intake with fracture risk contributed to the reduction of vitamin A in multivitamins.

"We hope that the criteria suggested here and our application of them to NHS will initiate greater discussion of the issues relevant to evaluation, promote further improvements in the evaluation of large epidemiological studies beyond the confines of bibliographic analysis, and foster the development of improved data sources for evaluations," the authors conclude.

Colditz has been the principal investigator on the NHS.

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