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Do Case-Control Studies Always Estimate Odds Ratios?

Authors
  • Labrecque, Jeremy A
  • Hunink, Myriam M G
  • Ikram, M Arfan
  • Ikram, M Kamran
Type
Published Article
Journal
American journal of epidemiology
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2021
Volume
190
Issue
2
Pages
318–321
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwaa167
PMID: 32889542
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Case-control studies are an important part of the epidemiologic literature, yet confusion remains about how to interpret estimates from different case-control study designs. We demonstrate that not all case-control study designs estimate odds ratios. On the contrary, case-control studies in the literature often report odds ratios as their main parameter even when using designs that do not estimate odds ratios. Only studies using specific case-control designs should report odds ratios, whereas the case-cohort and incidence-density sampled case-control studies must report risk ratio and incidence rate ratios, respectively. This also applies to case-control studies conducted in open cohorts, which often estimate incidence rate ratios. We also demonstrate the misinterpretation of case-control study estimates in a small sample of highly cited case-control studies in general epidemiologic and medical journals. We therefore suggest that greater care be taken when considering which parameter is to be reported from a case-control study. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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