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Do the Results Matter Beyond the Study Sample? 

Do the Results Matter Beyond the Study Sample?
Do the Results Matter Beyond the Study Sample?

Katherine M. Keyes

and Sandro Galea

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date: 27 September 2020

Establishing the external validity (or generalizability) of study results beyond the study sample is critical if epidemiologic studies have consequence for public health. This chapter discusses step 7: assess the external validity of epidemiologic study results. The chapter gives the reader a quantitative and conceptual overview of external validity. It places external validity in context with other levels of validity in epidemiologic studies. The chapter then guides the reader through the epidemiologic principle that the result from one study will be externally valid to populations in which the distribution of component causes of the exposure is similar to the study sample. The chapter discusses trade-offs between internal and external validity for the identification of causes of health indicators and provides the reader with tools to evaluate the extent to which the results of a particular epidemiologic study will be externally valid to other populations.

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