The CAPER Unit conducts rigorous observational research in critical care and perioperative medicine, using foundational principles, grounded in epidemiology and health services research. The term “outcomes research” is commonly used as a part of the daily discussions among not only clinicians, but also researchers, administrators, health policymakers, economists, and payors. There are several factors that have contributed to the growth of interest in outcomes research, and critical care and perioperative outcomes research in particular:
- The evidence base is lacking for much of daily clinical practice, particularly when data from randomized-controlled clinical trials (RCT) are limited.
- Health care costs have skyrocketed, forcing stakeholders to consider the value of medical care. For example, critical care accounts for greater than one percent of the entire gross domestic product of the United States, and is expected to rise further as the population ages.
- There has been a dramatic rise in the volume of health care data available, with a concurrent advancement in statistical techniques and computing capabilities. Because it would be costly and impractical to conduct an RCT to answer every clinical question, rigorous observational studies in large and diverse patient cohorts help to fill this gap.
- Greater scrutiny into the methodology of clinical studies have revealed that heterogeneity exists with regard to methodologic rigor in critical care outcomes studies, rendering many to bias. This is especially relevant, as millions of dollars in research funding are poured into clinical trials that are based on preliminary observational data.
Because of these reasons, the CAPER Unit is focused on conducting high-quality, observational research in perioperative and critical care medicine.