What is CER?

Comparative Effectiveness Research(CER)

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is a field of study that utilizes data generation (new studies) and synthesis (comparisons of existing studies) to provide evidence identifying best practices and policies related to improving health care.

CER studies are generally conducted after randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs determine efficacy or how well a treatment works under ideal conditions. CER studies examine effectiveness by comparing one or more treatments, procedures or medications to determine what works best for which patients under real world conditions.Applications of CER work include comparisons of drug therapy, primary care practices, emerging technologies, treatment options for serious illnesses, program evaluation, and many others.  Patients, doctors, care teams, healthcare professionals, and policy makers can use CER knowledge to improve decision making for their own health and the health of others.

“The direct comparison of existing health care interventions to determine which work best for which patients and which pose the greatest benefits and harms. The core question of comparative effectiveness research (is) which treatment works best, for whom, and under what circumstances.”

Center for Medical Technology Policy

"Comparative effectiveness research is the generation and synthesis of evidence that compares the benefits and harms of alternative methods to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor a clinical condition or to improve the delivery of care. The purpose of CER is to assist consumers, clinicians, purchasers, and policy makers to make informed decisions that will improve health care at both the individual and population levels.”

Institute of Medicine, 2009

“A type of health care research that compares the results of one approach for managing a disease to the results of other approaches. Comparative effectiveness usually compares two or more types of treatment, such as different drugs, for the same disease. Comparative effectiveness also can compare types of surgery or other kinds of medical procedures and tests. The results often are summarized in a systematic review.” 

Agency for Healthcare Research Quality