Causal inference in medicine - A historical view in epidemiology

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Changes of causal inference concepts in medicine, especially those having to do with chronic diseases, were reviewed. The review is divided into five sections. First, several articles on the increased academic acceptance of observational research are cited. Second, the definitions of confounder and effect modifier concepts are explained. Third, the debate over the so-called "criteria for causal inference" was discussed. Many articles have pointed out various problems related to the lack of logical bases for standard criteria, however, such criteria continue to be misapplied in Japan. Fourth, the Popperian and verificationist concepts of causal inference are summarized. Lastly, a recent controversy on meta-analysis is explained. Causal inference plays an important role in epidemiologic theory and medicine. However, because this concept has not been well-introduced in Japan, there has been much misuse of the concept, especially when used for conventional criteria.




Tsuda, T., Babazono, A., Mino, Y., Matsuoka, H., & Yamamoto, E. (1996). Causal inference in medicine - A historical view in epidemiology. Japanese Journal of Hygiene. Japanese Society for Hygiene.

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