What have we learnt from real-life research in asthma and COPD? Standards and novel designs for the future

David Price* (Corresponding Author), Thendral Uthaman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

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Key learnings from real-life research
Real-life research has high external validity and determines the effectiveness of clinical interventions in real life. On the other hand, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have high internal validity and determine the efficacy of interventions in patients with narrowly defined disease and good adherence to therapy. Thus, real-life research and RCTs answer different study questions.
By using larger numbers of patients, variables that are routinely collected and data from patients who do not qualify for RCTs due to their strict eligibility criteria, real-life research can answer research questions that may also be unfeasible for RCTs.
Some recent key findings from real-life research are that eosinophilic disease is more common than previously thought in both broad and severe asthma, short-acting beta-agonist (SABA) should not be prescribed alone, and oral theophylline has no value in terms of reducing exacerbations among adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1021
Number of pages4
Issue number12
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

We thank Dr Ruth B Murray (Medscript NZ Ltd) and Celine Goh, MBBS for their assistance in drafting and editing this commentary.


  • real-life research
  • severe asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • clinical guidelines


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