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Beware of Surrogate Outcome Measures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2009

Peter C. Gøtzsche
The Nordic Cochrane Centre
Alessandro Liberati
The Italian Cochrane Centre
Valter Torri
The Italian Cochrane Centre
Luca Rossetti
Clinica Oculistica


Surrogate outcome measures may speed up clinical research if they can be measured earlier in a study than the primary outcome of interest. We review the justification for their use and conclude that reliance on them may be harmful. Results obtained with surrogates should therefore be regarded as preliminary. Large, definitive trials with clinically relevant outcomes should always be performed before new interventions are accepted.

Special Section: The Quality of the Medical Evidence: Is It Good Enough?
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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