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Is your association real or just reverse causality? Some examples from analyses of multiple sclerosis clinical course and tools to assess it

Citation

Simpson Jr, S and Blizzard, L and Taylor, B and Tettey, P and van der Mei, I, Is your association real or just reverse causality? Some examples from analyses of multiple sclerosis clinical course and tools to assess it, Australasian Epidemiologist, 20.1 pp. 34-37. ISSN 1327-8835 (2013) [Non Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Australasian Epidemiological Association

Official URL: http://www.aea.asn.au/

Abstract

It can be exciting to find a significant association between your primary predictor and your study outcome. The coefficient is in the right direction, the biological plausibility is all there, it’s indicative of a true effect! Publish! Wait – is it a real association or indicative of reverse causality? This is the step that some of us can forget to check, and indeed can be all our ‘finding’ is showing. While particularly a potential concern for cross-sectional or case-control studies, even studies in which data from a longitudinal cohort study are analysed should take into account the possibility of reverse causality, and rebut this possibility as an explanation for their findings. Using the model of multiple sclerosis and environmental and biologic predictors of clinical disability, we present some cases where a promising association may simply reflect reverse causality. We also present some analytical methods whereby reverse causality can be assessed, and the utility of which can make you – and the reviewers – more confident your results mean what you think they do.

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Article
Keywords:epidemiology, reverse causality
Research Division:Medical and Health Sciences
Research Group:Public Health and Health Services
Research Field:Epidemiology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health)
Objective Field:Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response)
Author:Simpson Jr, S (Dr Steve Simpson JR)
Author:Blizzard, L (Associate Professor Leigh Blizzard)
Author:Taylor, B (Professor Bruce Taylor)
Author:Tettey, P (Mr Prudence Tettey)
Author:van der Mei, I (Associate Professor Ingrid van der Mei)
ID Code:93679
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2014-08-13
Last Modified:2014-08-28
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