Advanced Research and Data Methods in Women's Health: Big Data Analytics, Adaptive Studies, and the Road Ahead

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Technical advances in science have had broad implications in reproductive and women's health care. Recent innovations in population-level data collection and storage have made available an unprecedented amount of data for analysis while computational technology has evolved to permit processing of data previously thought too dense to study. “Big data” is a term used to describe data that are a combination of dramatically greater volume, complexity, and scale. The number of variables in typical big data research can readily be in the thousands, challenging the limits of traditional research methodologies. Regardless of what it is called, advanced data methods, predictive analytics, or big data, this unprecedented revolution in scientific exploration has the potential to dramatically assist research in obstetrics and gynecology broadly across subject matter. Before implementation of big data research methodologies, however, potential researchers and reviewers should be aware of strengths, strategies, study design methods, and potential pitfalls. Examination of big data research examples contained in this article provides insight into the potential and the limitations of this data science revolution and practical pathways for its useful implementation.

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