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Home > Standards & Guidances > Methodological Guide

ENCePP Guide on Methodological Standards in Pharmacoepidemiology


4.3.2. Conceputal differences between a registry and a study

As illustrated in Registries in European post-marketing surveillance: a retrospective analysis of centrally approved products, 2005–2013 (Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2017 Mar 26), the conceptual differences between registries and studies need to be clearly understood.  


Patient registries are often integrated into routine clinical practice with systematic and sometimes automated data capture in electronic healthcare records, but disease, exposure or outcome-specific registries usually require recording of specific relevant data. Whilst the duration of a registry is normally open-ended, that of a study is dictated by the time needed to define and collect data relevant for the specific study objectives. Studies also often require introduction of specific procedures, questionnaires or data collection tools. Studies are set up and managed based on limited endpoints and a specific protocol, whereas patient registries are traditionally set up focusing on system(s) specifications in order to ensure a continuous, efficient and collaborative data collection; safe data hosting; accessible, retrievable, interoperable and re-usable data.


A registry can be used as a source of patients for studies based on either primary data collection (where the data collected for new patients are also used for a specific study) or secondary data collection (analogously to the use of electronic healthcare records). For this purpose, registries data can be enriched with additional information on outcomes, lifestyle data, immunisation and mortality information obtained from linkage to the existing database such as national cancer registries, prescription databases or mortality records.





Individual Chapters:


1. Introduction

2. Formulating the research question

3. Development of the study protocol

4. Approaches to data collection

4.1. Primary data collection

4.1.1. Surveys

4.1.2. Randomised clinical trials

4.2. Secondary data collection

4.3. Patient registries

4.3.1. Definition

4.3.2. Conceptual differences between a registry and a study

4.3.3. Methodological guidance

4.3.4. Registries which capture special populations

4.3.5. Disease registries in regulatory practice and health technology assessment

4.4. Spontaneous report database

4.5. Social media and electronic devices

4.6. Research networks

4.6.1. General considerations

4.6.2. Models of studies using multiple data sources

4.6.3. Challenges of different models

5. Study design and methods

5.1. Definition and validation of drug exposure, outcomes and covariates

5.1.1. Assessment of exposure

5.1.2. Assessment of outcomes

5.1.3. Assessment of covariates

5.1.4. Validation

5.2. Bias and confounding

5.2.1. Selection bias

5.2.2. Information bias

5.2.3. Confounding

5.3. Methods to handle bias and confounding

5.3.1. New-user designs

5.3.2. Case-only designs

5.3.3. Disease risk scores

5.3.4. Propensity scores

5.3.5. Instrumental variables

5.3.6. Prior event rate ratios

5.3.7. Handling time-dependent confounding in the analysis

5.4. Effect measure modification and interaction

5.5. Ecological analyses and case-population studies

5.6. Pragmatic trials and large simple trials

5.6.1. Pragmatic trials

5.6.2. Large simple trials

5.6.3. Randomised database studies

5.7. Systematic reviews and meta-analysis

5.8. Signal detection methodology and application

6. The statistical analysis plan

6.1. General considerations

6.2. Statistical analysis plan structure

6.3. Handling of missing data

7. Quality management

8. Dissemination and reporting

8.1. Principles of communication

8.2. Communication of study results

9. Data protection and ethical aspects

9.1. Patient and data protection

9.2. Scientific integrity and ethical conduct

10. Specific topics

10.1. Comparative effectiveness research

10.1.1. Introduction

10.1.2. General aspects

10.1.3. Prominent issues in CER

10.2. Vaccine safety and effectiveness

10.2.1. Vaccine safety

10.2.2. Vaccine effectiveness

10.3. Design and analysis of pharmacogenetic studies

10.3.1. Introduction

10.3.2. Identification of generic variants

10.3.3. Study designs

10.3.4. Data collection

10.3.5. Data analysis

10.3.6. Reporting

10.3.7. Clinical practice guidelines

10.3.8. Resources

Annex 1. Guidance on conducting systematic revies and meta-analyses of completed comparative pharmacoepidemiological studies of safety outcomes