Week 5

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5. (10/3) Associations, Predictions, Causes, and Interventions


Idea: Relationships among associations, predictions, causes, and interventions run through all the cases and controversies in this course. The idea introduced in this session is that epidemiology has two faces: One from which the thinking about associations, predictions, causes, and interventions are allowed to cross-fertilize, and the other from which the distinctions among them are vigorously maintained, as in "Correlation is not causation!" The second face views Randomized Control Trial (RCTs) as the "gold-standard" for testing treatments in medicine. The first face recognizes that many hypotheses about treatment and other interventions emerge from observational studies and often such studies provide the only data we have to work with. What are the shortcomings of observational studies we need to pay attention to (e.g., systematic sampling errors leading to unmeasured confounders-see next class)?


Cases: Cardiac risk factors, Statins and Alzheimer's disease, Hormone replacement therapy, Vitamins,


Readings: Ridker 2007, Jicks 2000, Alzheimer Research Forum 2004, Stampfer 1991, 2004, Petitti 2004, Davey-Smith & Ebrahim 2007,pp2-8, Lawlor 2004


Copyright ©2010 Peter Taylor, Ph.D.