Study design: what’s in a name?

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 O Dekkers, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum Centrum voor Humane en Klinische Genetica, Leiden, 2300 RC, Netherlands
  • 2 R Groenwold, Clinical Epidemiology, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden, 2333ZA, Netherlands

Correspondence: Olaf Dekkers, Email:
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The name of the study should properly reflect the actual conduct and analysis of the study. This short paper provides guidance on how to properly name the study design. The first distinction is between a trial (intervention given to patients to study its effect) and an observational study. For observational studies, it should further be decided whether it is cross-sectional or whether follow-up time is taken into account (cohort or case-control study). The distinction prospective-retrospective has two disadvantages: prospective is often seen as marker of higher quality, which is not necessarily true; there is no unifying definition that makes a proper distinction between retrospective and prospective possible.


     European Society of Endocrinology

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