Best practices for conducting observational research to assess the relation between nutrition and bone: An international working group summary

Regan Bailey, Shivani Sahni, Patricia Chocano-Bedoya, Robin M. Daly, Ailsa Welch, Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, Connie M. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Diet is a modifiable factor that can affect bone strength and integrity, and the risk of fractures. Currently, a hierarchy of scientific evidence contributes to our understanding of the role of diet on bone health and fracture risk. The strength of evidence is generally based on the type of study conducted, the quality of the methodology employed, the rigor and integrity of the data collected and analysis plan, and the transparency and completeness of the results. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered to be the gold standard from a clinical research paradigm, but there is a dearth of high-quality diet-related intervention trials with bone as the primary outcome, forcing the use of observational research to inform research and clinical practices. However, for observational research to be of the most utility, standardization and optimization of the study design, accurate and reliable measurement of key variables, and appropriate data analysis and data reporting are paramount. Although there have been recommendations made in relation to RCTs in the field of nutrition, no clear rubric exists for best practices in conducting observational research with regard to nutrition and bone health. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe the best practices and considerations for designing, conducting, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting observational research specifically for understanding the role of nutrition in bone health, amassed by a global panel of scientific experts with strengths in bone, nutrition epidemiology, physical activity, public health, clinical and translational trials, and observational study methods. The global panel of scientific experts represents the leadership and selected participants from the 10th annual International Symposium for the Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. The topics selected and best practices presented reflect expert opinion and areas of scientific expertise of the authors rather than a systematic or comprehensive literature review or professional reporting guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-409
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

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