Associations and Causation

  • John J. Schwab
  • Mary E. Schwab
Part of the Topics in General Psychiatry book series (TGPS)


Epidemiologic studies search for observed and statistical associations between host and environmental variables that lead minimally to an increased understanding of health and illness, or optimally to the discovery of causal or preventive processes. Hippocrates’ contributions to our knowledge of disease were derived from astute clinical observations and his ability to generalize from the part to the whole. But nowadays, the epidemiologic method uses statistical procedures to ascertain whether there are associations among the variables investigated and the direction and strength of such association. Pierre Louis2 is credited with introducing “The Numerical Method” into medicine in the 1830s. His descriptive statistics, termed “simple bookkeeping” by Feinstein,3 helped end the common use of bloodletting by leeches as the routine form of treatment for many diseases, first in France and later in other Western nations.


Mental Illness Sleep Deprivation Community Mental Health Depressive Symptomatology Western Nation 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Schwab
    • 1
  • Mary E. Schwab
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Mental Health CenterBostonUSA

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