Criteria of a causal relationship
Scientifically determining a cause is more difficult than one might think. In everyday life, we like to rely on a temporal sequence of two events to infer causation. Thus, the black cat that crosses our path is held causally responsible for the luck or misfortune that befalls us afterwards. To prove a causal relationship between, for example, the use of cell phones and brain tumors, high-quality and robust scientific data are needed. In medicine, a causal relationship is determined according to certain criteria named after the British epidemiologist and statistician Sir Austin Bradford Hill.
A causal relationship is more likely …
- if the correlation can be observed very often,
- when other studies consistently come to the same conclusions,
- if there are no other causes,
- if the effect always occurs after the presumed cause,
- when a higher dose leads to a stronger effect,
- if the connection can be explained scientifically or does not contradict fundamental medical knowledge
- if the effect can be repeated in a laboratory test,
- if the effect is absent after the cause has been eliminated,
- when similar causes lead to similar effects.
Synonyms causal relationship:
- Bradford Hill Criteria
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