Case Control Studies

Case-control studies are often the first step in a progression of building clinical evidence because they are relatively inexpensive and rapid studies to complete. Case-control studies always look backward in time (i.e., retrospective studies) to determine a statistical association between an exposure and an outcome. To complete a case-control study of the association of HRT and coronary heart disease (CHD), a researcher would identify a group of cases (i.e., women with CHD) and a group of controls (i.e., women without CHD) and look back in time to determine how many women in each group had taken HRT. The association between exposure (i.e., HRT) and outcome (i.e., CHD) in a case-control study is typically summarized by a statistical measure called an odds ratio. An odds ratio is an estimation of the true relative risk for the outcome in question. A common form of bias in a case-control study is recall bias: errors in accurately determining whether cases and controls had exposure to HRT in the past.

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