Interventional Studies Experimental Study Designs

Once risk factors have been identified by observational studies, the impact of their reduction or elimination on health outcomes may be assessed in randomized trials, and positive results of such studies are commonly regarded as the definitive (and sometimes necessary) proof of causality of epidemiological associations. Well-known examples include reduction of cardiovascular disease endpoints by lipid lowering or antihypertensive medication in randomized trials after hyperlipidemia and hypertension had been identified as major risk factors in observational epidemiologic studies (e.g., Hebert et al., 1997; Psaty et al., 1997) or randomized clinical trials to prevent falls in elderly patients as summarized by Tinetti (2003).

Such intervention studies, which may address measures of primary, secondary or tertiary prevention, are sometimes summarized under the heading of ''experimental epidemiology.''

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