Randomized Trials


The randomized trial is often described as the "gold standard" of epidemiological research. In contrast to observational study designs such as the cohort study and the case-control study, randomized trials are experimental in nature: the researchers randomly assign exposure to individuals, rather than simply observing the patterns of exposure occurring in the study population. This exercise will highlight the key features of the randomized trials design, along with investigating its strengths and weaknesses.

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Alan Berkman (1945-2009)

Dr. Alan Berkman was Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Berkman was actively interested in Public Health and social change since (at least) his days as a medical student at Columbia University. Dr. Berkman's work included the development of comprehensive programs in resource-constrained settings that integrated prevention, treatment and mitigation of HIV /AIDS at a population level. He was an early advocate for the global expansion of HIV care and treatment programs and explored ways that such programs could be used to strengthen prevention efforts.

His work in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, while initially focused on adults, brought his attention to the issue of the family as a unit and the particular impact of the epidemic on children. His research interests included the development of behavioral interventions that promote adherence to care and prevention for HIV + individuals; structural interventions to strengthen family and community-based efforts to stabilize the lives of orphans and vulnerable children, and policy issues including HIV testing algorithms and innovative approaches for prevention of maternal to child transmission.

Read more about Dr. Berkman's work

  1. Berkman A, Cerwonka E, Sohler N, Susser E. A randomized trial of a brief HIV risk reduction intervention for men with severe mental illness. Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Mar;57(3):407-9.
  2. Berkman A, Garcia J, Munoz-Laboy M, Paiva V, Parker R. A critical analysis of the Brazilian response to HIV /AIDS: lessons learned for controlling and mitigating the epidemic in developing countries. Am J Public Health. 2005 Jul;95(7):1162-72.
  3. Berkman A. Confronting global AIDS : prevention and treatment. Am J Public Health. 2001 Sep;91(9):1348-9.