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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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A Statistical Sojourn

A Statistical Sojourn

(p.127) Eight A Statistical Sojourn
Risk, Chance, and Causation

Michael B. Bracken

Yale University Press

This chapter presents the steps to determining causation, which start with the design of a valid study by using an appropriate and scientifically sound methodology. It is a largely nonstatistical exercise; the only statistical part is deciding how large the study should be. The second step is documenting the strength of the association between a risk factor and a disease, and determining how much of a role chance might have played in the collected data—this is where statistical methods largely come into play. The third and final step is one largely ignored until the last 20 years and depends on how the association observed in a study compares to the results of similar studies and to the entire body of research on the topic. It is very rare for a single study to be considered to have produced sufficient evidence to demonstrate a causal association.

Keywords:   causation, scientifically sound methodology, nonstatistical exercise, risk factor, disease, chance, statistical methods

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