Title: Significance of observational studies in clinical paediatric dentistry research
Abstract: In clinical paediatric dentistry research, an Observational Study (OS) is one in which the investigators do not intervene in any way, for example, providing a treatment to a group of eligible participants; the investigators also are limited to the observation of one or more groups of paediatric patients whose characteristics have been registered and analysed. This design constitutes the majority of dental research, mainly with the aim of eliciting possible causes of, or estimating the prevalence of, an oral disease. However, OS may be more challenging in terms of controlling confounding factors. There are three main observational designs: cohort studies; case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies. The aim of the present article was to provide the basics of these three designs in the paediatric dentistry clinical research field. Also, some useful examples are provided of OS carried out in paediatric dentistry and published in the dental literature.