Analysis of Causation in Medicine

  • Barbara MaierEmail author
  • Warren A. Shibles†
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 47)


Decision-making, especially diagnosis, depends on a theory of causation. In any particular case an unlimited number of models of causation are possible. Cause may be seen as a hypothesis. Cause is an abstract term. Cause is a concept of human understanding. If the patient is to give a report about him/herself, she is likely to construct it according to how she summarizes what has happened in her life, memories, selections, what she thinks to be received. Causes and causation in medicine are to be carefully examined and healthcare workers have to be cautious in ascribing causes too readily in order to avoid circuits and prejudices in diagnosing and treating patients. All causal statements should be regarded as false unless proven otherwise. The critical definitions of causes have an ethical impact on medical thinking and practice, the lack of doing so invalidates it.


Cause distal cause proximal cause causation effect association correlation significance stimulus response 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gynecology and ObstetricsParacelsus Medical University SALKSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin–WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA

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