Making Inference and Making Decisions

  • Jørn Olsen
  • Kaare Christensen
  • Jeff Murray
  • Anders Ekbom
Part of the Springer Series on Epidemiology and Public Health book series (SSEH, volume 1)


The designs described in Chapter 2 allow you to estimate associations between the exposures under study and the corresponding health outcome. Making causal inference is a more complicated issue. No design and no statistical procedures will in themselves allow you to make causal inference. You can only be more or less certain about causal relations, and making causal inference rests to some extent on subjective consideration. However, the opinion of those who know the subject matter well carries more weight than the opinion of ignorants, although the latter could be right. History shows that the skillful more often got it right, because knowledge allows you to identify some non-causal associations. Skills will allow you to put hypotheses to critical tests that often will reveal associations caused by bias or confounding.


Causal Inference Coffee Consumption Inadequate Evidence Etiologic Fraction Subjective Consideration 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jørn Olsen
    • 1
  • Kaare Christensen
    • 2
  • Jeff Murray
    • 3
  • Anders Ekbom
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, 2182 MedLabsUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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