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aetiology

Risk vs. prognostic factors

9 Mar, 09 | by Bob Phillips

Gold stars to the first to spot the linkThe separation of ‘risk’ factors and ‘prognostic’ factors at first seems the sort of obsessive fine detail that gives epidemiologists and statisticians a bad name. Sadly, the difference is actually worth understanding for any clinician that’s going to try to cut through an observational study and understand what it might be truthfully telling us. (This isn’t the true of the difference between a Peto odds ratio meta-analysis and a DerSimion & Laird random effects meta-analysis. That is a pointlessly academic difference.) Fortunately, the difference between risk and prognostic factors is straight forward. ‘Risk’ factors are those which as associated with causing a condition (like smoking for lung cancer, being premature for chronic lung disease, or soft light and wine for falling in love). more…

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