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Study designs which can demonstrate and test causation 

Study designs which can demonstrate and test causation
Study designs which can demonstrate and test causation

Mark Elwood

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date: 31 July 2021

This chapter presents study designs which can test and show causation. Cohort and intervention studies compare people exposed to an agent or intervention with those unexposed or less exposed. Case-control studies compare people affected by a disease or outcome with a control group of unaffected people or representing a total population. Surveys select a sample of people, not chosen by exposure or outcome. Cohort studies may be prospective or retrospective; case-control studies are retrospective; surveys are cross-sectional in time, but retrospective or prospective aspects can be added. In part two, strengths, weaknesses and applications of these designs are shown. Intervention trials, ideally randomised, are the prime method of assessing healthcare interventions; special types include crossover trials and community-based trials. Non-randomised trials are noted. The strengths and weaknesses of cohort studies, case-control studies, and surveys are shown.

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