Research in traumatic brain injury (TBI) is challenging for several reasons; in particular, the heterogeneity between patients regarding causes, pathophysiology, treatment, and outcome. Advances in basic science have failed to translate into successful clinical treatments, and the evidence underpinning guideline recommendations is weak. Because clinical research has been hampered by non-standardised data collection, restricted multidisciplinary collaboration, and the lack of sensitivity of classification and efficacy analyses, multidisciplinary collaborations are now being fostered. Approaches to deal with heterogeneity have been developed by the IMPACT study group. These approaches can increase statistical power in clinical trials by up to 50% and are also relevant to other heterogeneous neurological diseases, such as stroke and subarachnoid haemorrhage. Rather than trying to limit heterogeneity, we might also be able to exploit it by analysing differences in treatment and outcome between countries and centres in comparative effectiveness research. This approach has great potential to advance care in patients with TBI.
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