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Table 3 Examples of study design: advantages and pitfalls in a global health setting

From: A Global Health Research Checklist for clinicians

Study design Examples Considerations
Experimental designs Clinical trial
Educational intervention
Quality/process improvement
• For clinical trials, there must be reasonable uncertainty about whether the intervention or standard of care is better (equipoise) [36]
• Educational and quality improvement projects may allow comparison of the same group before and after
• Outcomes from educational interventions can be knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors
Observational designs [37] Prospective cohort
Retrospective cohort
Descriptive epidemiology
• Review of existing records from a retrospective cohort or case-control requires reliable clinical or administrative records
• Surveys and interview tools should be either validated tools from the published literature or carefully designed and reviewed [38]
• Prospective data collection may require more time and personnel
Qualitative design [39] Interviews • May generate new ideas for further testing
Pilot study Small-size project to assess feasibility • Identifies potential problems prior to larger-scale study [40]