Estimating effectiveness in an observational study: A case study of dornase alfa in cystic fibrosis

Charles A. Johnson, Steven M. Butler, Michael W. Konstan, Timothy J. Breen, Wayne J. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) receiving dornase-alfa had improved pulmonary function relative to a control group in a large randomized phase III controlled study. We reviewed data from a large observational phase IV study to estimate the observed drug effect in patients receiving dornase alfa as part of their routine care. Patients 6 years or older and with a baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) of at least 40% predicted who had been enrolled for at least 18 months were included (n = 283). The control group consisted of 2382 patients who had never received dornase alfa. Patients in the study had a baseline spirometry and a second spirometry recorded 12 months later; a baseline observation period of 6 months preceded the initial spirometry, and dornase alfa had to have been started after the baseline spirometry (within 3 months) and to have continued through the 12- month follow-up spirometry. Patients treated with dornase alfa had lower pulmonary functions, more bacterial colonization, and more exacerbations at baseline (FEV1: 76.0% vs 87.6%, Pseudomonas aeruginosa: 64.1% vs 46.7%, pulmonary exacerbations during the previous 6 months: 56.4% vs 22.2%). Mean values of FEV1 for patients treated with dornase alfa improved by 3.9% of predicted compared with a decline of 1.6% in the untreated cohort. Covariate adjustment provided an estimated benefit of dornase alfa of 4.3% predicted FEV1 (SE = 0.9, P < .0001). This analysis provides evidence for the effectiveness of dornase alfa therapy in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-739
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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