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Psychiatric EpidemiologySearching for the Causes of Mental Disorders$
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Ezra Susser, Sharon Schwartz, Alfredo Morabia, and Evelyn Bromet

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195101812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101812.001.0001

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Choosing Controls in Biologic Psychiatry

Choosing Controls in Biologic Psychiatry

(p.247) 21 Choosing Controls in Biologic Psychiatry
Psychiatric Epidemiology

Ezra Susser (Contributor Webpage)

Sharon Schwartz

Alfredo Morabia

Evelyn J. Bromet

Oxford University Press

One of the most difficult and intellectually intriguing tasks of a biologic case-control study is the selection of the control group. An inappropriate control group can mask the presence of a true association or create the illusion of an association when one does not exist. Choosing a control group depends on thinking through the implications of many other features of the study: the types of cases being selected, the biologic process being examined, and most critically, the specific hypothesis being tested. No criteria can be advanced to define the perfect control group, because there is no control group that is appropriate for all or even most case-control studies. Nonetheless, it is possible to approach the task systematically. The previous chapters derived a practical guideline for making the best choice of a control group in an ordinary case-control study. This chapter demonstrates how it can be applied to biologic studies of causes. It takes up a central question, applies the guideline, and arrives at an answer that has important implications for biologic research.

Keywords:   biologic research, case-control studies, control group selection, association, criteria

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