Sound scientific evidence is a prerequisite for any modern health service system to provide safe, high-quality patient care and to take maximum advantage of advances in diagnostics, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention. This evidence is derived best from continually updated answers to four key generic clinical questions:

  1. What is the expected course of a disease? E.g., spontaneous cure or progression without clinical intervention (natural history) or with usual treatment (clinical course)?

  2. Which test/examination should be used to diagnose a disease and predict its course, minimizing false positive and false negative results?

  3. What is the likelihood that a clinical intervention will be beneficial in terms of curing or preventing a disease, slowing its progression, or reducing its symptom burden?

  4. What are the risks -- side-effects or complications -- from selected treatments and other clinical interventions?

Addressing these questions requires integrated knowledge of clinical medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics. In recent decades clinical epidemiology therefore has become a core discipline in clinical care, responding to the increasing need for evidence-based medicine, quality assessment, protection of patient safety, resource optimization, meta-analyses, and development of clinical guidelines, all of which are based on clinical epidemiological concepts.

The aim of CLEPAN is to introduce medical students, clinicians without formal research training, and predoctoral students to basic clinical epidemiological concepts and analytic methods, without needing to learn an advanced computer program. They should be able to run the program after a brief introduction.

The program is based on my notes from teaching medical and PhD students for close to 25 years. I am very grateful to all the students and colleagues with whom I have interacted over many years and those who proofread the program

I hope the process of developing a dynamic program can continue, and I would be happy to receive comments and suggestions.

Opus Consult has translated my program into a webdesign.

Egå, December 2016

Henrik Toft Sørensen, MD, PhD, DrMedSci
Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Denmark