#2 Practical RWE – Terminology: Real World Research (RWR), Real World Data (RWD), and Real World Evidence (RWE)


Real-world research, in the context of Real-World Data (RWD) and Real-World Evidence (RWE), takes on a specific meaning, particularly in the fields of healthcare and pharmaceutical research. Let’s break down these concepts:

  1. Real-World Data (RWD): This refers to data that is collected from sources outside of traditional clinical trials. RWD can come from a variety of sources such as electronic health records (EHRs), medical claims and billing activities, product and disease registries, patient-generated data including in home-use settings, data gathered from other devices that are a part of health care and real-life environments, and data from social media platforms. Essentially, it’s data that reflects the patient experience in real-world settings, not in the controlled environment of a clinical trial.
  2. Real-World Evidence (RWE): RWE is the clinical evidence regarding the usage and potential benefits or risks of a medical product derived from the analysis of RWD. This evidence is increasingly being used to support regulatory decisions and to help develop guidelines and decision-making in clinical practice. RWE studies can provide insights on how a drug or therapy performs in a broader, more diverse population and in routine clinical practice, outside the constraints of controlled clinical trials.

When conducting real-world research in this context, the focus is on understanding and analyzing the effectiveness, safety, and value of healthcare interventions in the everyday, diverse clinical settings. The methodology of such research might include:

– Observational studies, often using large datasets.

– Pragmatic clinical trials designed to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions under the usual conditions in which they will be applied.

– Analysis of treatment outcomes, side effects, and patient adherence using RWD sources.

– Use of advanced data analytics and big data techniques to extract insights from complex, large-scale RWD.

Real-world research using RWD and RWE is becoming increasingly important in the healthcare sector. It complements findings from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which are often the gold standard for clinical research but can be limited in terms of the diversity of participants and strict inclusion criteria. RWE, on the other hand, can provide a more comprehensive view of how treatments work in diverse populations and real-life settings, which is invaluable for healthcare providers, policymakers, and patients.

In essence, definitions lay the groundwork for accurate, consistent, and meaningful research, especially in areas where the data and its sources are as diverse and complex as in RWD and RWE.

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