Bridging the gap between experimental and non-experimental neuroepidemiology, and ultimately - between neuroepidemiological research and practice: round table discussion at the First International Congress on Clinical Neurology and Epidemiology.
Feigin V., Kurtzke JF., Korczyn A., Beghi E., Brown A.
A highlight of the congress was an interactive and inclusive discussion of the existing gaps between clinical neurology and epidemiology and the ways of bridging these gaps. Some perceptions, challenges and scientific issues between experimental and non-experimental neuroepidemiology were brought to light. Recognizing that all study designs have advantages and disadvantages, panelists stressed that studies should aim to complement each other while answering important research- or practice-related questions. Advocated strategies included introducing more epidemiology into the medical school or residency curriculum, developing consistency in the reporting of epidemiological data to improving the strength and utility of the evidence, as well as nurturing collaborations that recognize the usefulness of both experimental and non-experimental epidemiological studies. These strategies will in the end benefit clinical practice. Indeed, clinical knowledge improves with experience and critical scientific evidence that can change perceptions, yet, individualized disease management will probably always remain an art rather than an exact science. Nevertheless, strong epidemiological studies and collaborations can influence government and public health policies. Bridging the gap between neuroepidemiological research and practice - whether through improved communication, education or basic science- is clearly a pressing challenge that requires our concerted and sustained effort.