Case-Control Studies

  • Michael Alderson

Consideration of case-control studies introduces the first category of study that is essentially hypothesis-testing in aim. (Hypothesis-testing studies may also be referred to as analytic or a priori studies.) A major difference from surveys is the requirement to collect information about the past from respondents in case-control studies. The collection of data on the past introduces an additional dimension to the study design and permits a wide range of issues to be explored. At the same time, it has an important bearing upon the validity of the data that can be collected; this is discussed further in subsection 5.2.5. Because the retrospective nature was felt to be an important part of case-control studies and related to major issues of validity, the expression ‘retrospective study’ was used to describe this method. Unfortunately other terms are also used for such studies: case-referent, case-compeer, and trohoc; such multiplicity of expression can cause confusion and the general use of the term case-control is therefore advocated. (‘Retrospective study’ can also refer to other categories of study that do not involve controls.)


Relative Risk Bladder Cancer Endometrial Cancer British Medical Journal Chronic Bronchitis 
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Copyright information

© Michael Alderson 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Alderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of Population Censuses and SurveysUK

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