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Using natural experiments to evaluate population health interventions: new Medical Research Council guidance

Using natural experiments to evaluate population health interventions: new Medical Research Council guidance
Using natural experiments to evaluate population health interventions: new Medical Research Council guidance
Natural experimental studies are often recommended as a way of understanding the health impact of policies and other large scale interventions. Although they have certain advantages over planned experiments, and may be the only option when it is impossible to manipulate exposure to the intervention, natural experimental studies are more susceptible to bias. This paper introduces new guidance from the Medical Research Council to help researchers and users, funders and publishers of research evidence make the best use of natural experimental approaches to evaluating population health interventions. The guidance emphasises that natural experiments can provide convincing evidence of impact even when effects are small or take time to appear. However, a good understanding is needed of the process determining exposure to the intervention, and careful choice and combination of methods, testing of assumptions and transparent reporting is vital. More could be learnt from natural experiments in future as experience of promising but lesser used methods accumulates
0143-005X
1182-1186
Craig, Peter
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Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Gunnell, David
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Haw, Sally
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Lawson, Kenny
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Macintyre, Sally
ef97fd4e-6921-403f-8351-b9803f5e9442
Olgivie, David
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Petticrew, Mark
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Reeves, Barney
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Sutton, Matt
08196715-c378-4f47-839b-f1e0e6de5e2a
Thompson, Simon
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Craig, Peter
a47bd26e-e450-4f18-bb72-5d106ddf3699
Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Gunnell, David
d525f7e5-7447-43c8-84b7-a122b60b3c54
Haw, Sally
703f4d38-5fe8-44ff-a42d-56e9f3c84cca
Lawson, Kenny
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Macintyre, Sally
ef97fd4e-6921-403f-8351-b9803f5e9442
Olgivie, David
8025649e-0894-4824-a12f-7edd0cef9b34
Petticrew, Mark
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Reeves, Barney
3b9ef9f2-13c0-4ad2-af9e-378b33725cfd
Sutton, Matt
08196715-c378-4f47-839b-f1e0e6de5e2a
Thompson, Simon
251a3271-54c3-4bfd-af10-9c25aa8f026a

Craig, Peter, Cooper, Cyrus, Gunnell, David, Haw, Sally, Lawson, Kenny, Macintyre, Sally, Olgivie, David, Petticrew, Mark, Reeves, Barney, Sutton, Matt and Thompson, Simon (2012) Using natural experiments to evaluate population health interventions: new Medical Research Council guidance. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 66 (12), 1182-1186. (doi:10.1136/jech-2011-200375.). (PMID:22577181)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Natural experimental studies are often recommended as a way of understanding the health impact of policies and other large scale interventions. Although they have certain advantages over planned experiments, and may be the only option when it is impossible to manipulate exposure to the intervention, natural experimental studies are more susceptible to bias. This paper introduces new guidance from the Medical Research Council to help researchers and users, funders and publishers of research evidence make the best use of natural experimental approaches to evaluating population health interventions. The guidance emphasises that natural experiments can provide convincing evidence of impact even when effects are small or take time to appear. However, a good understanding is needed of the process determining exposure to the intervention, and careful choice and combination of methods, testing of assumptions and transparent reporting is vital. More could be learnt from natural experiments in future as experience of promising but lesser used methods accumulates

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: May 2012
Published date: December 2012
Organisations: Faculty of Medicine

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 347829
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/347829
ISSN: 0143-005X
PURE UUID: 4ed70785-edc5-495e-80a5-b33fc39b7ce4
ORCID for Cyrus Cooper: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3510-0709

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Date deposited: 01 Feb 2013 09:00
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 01:56

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Contributors

Author: Peter Craig
Author: Cyrus Cooper ORCID iD
Author: David Gunnell
Author: Sally Haw
Author: Kenny Lawson
Author: Sally Macintyre
Author: David Olgivie
Author: Mark Petticrew
Author: Barney Reeves
Author: Matt Sutton
Author: Simon Thompson

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