Randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews: a foundation for evidence-based perinatal medicine


  • A Ohlsson

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Newborn and Developmental Paediatrics and University of Toronto Perinatal Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Women's College Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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A Ohlsson, Department of Newborn and Developmental Paediatrics, Women's College Hospital, 76 Grenville Street, Toronto, M5S 1B2 Ontario, Canada


The objective of this paper is to introduce the reader to clinical research methodologies and to illustrate how randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews provide a solid foundation for evidence-based perinatal practice. Relevant references were critically appraised for validity and usefulness. Random allocation is of utmost importance to avoid bias. There are thousands of reported perinatal RCTs. Systematic review techniques allow clinicians to assess the effectiveness of perinatal interventions. The application of the results of systematic reviews to perinatal practice is increasing. RCTs and systematic reviews provide the most valid results on which to build an evidence-based perinatal practice. A major challenge for perinatal researchers is the development of innovative means of communication. This assures that the evidence for an effective intervention is timely implemented. Consumers of care should be encouraged to actively participate in the design, execution and dissemination of perinatal research.