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Risk, Chance, and CausationInvestigating the Origins and Treatment of Disease$
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Michael B. Bracken

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300188844

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300188844.001.0001

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Randomization and Clinical Trials

Randomization and Clinical Trials

(p.51) Four Randomization and Clinical Trials
Risk, Chance, and Causation

Michael B. Bracken

Yale University Press

This chapter investigates the methods used to demonstrate causality via a consideration of the type of study design that most readily lends itself to doing so. In the case of drug therapy or some other type of medical act, determining whether it improves an illness or causes harm requires a randomized controlled trial. This study design is often thought of as the gold standard for medical and social research, and it is discussed here as the touchstone against which other research methodologies will be compared. Randomization is a simple enough concept, but it is not always easy to execute in practice. It allows the play of chance to determine whether someone is treated or “exposed” with one type of therapy versus another form of treatment or with no treatment at all.

Keywords:   causality, randomized controlled trial, randomization, play of chance

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