Epidemiology, Risk, and Causation – Report of Workshops

This month’s issue of Preventive Medicine includes a series of papers arising from last year’s workshops on “Epidemiology, Risk, and Causation,” at Cambridge University. The workshops were organized by philosopher Alex Broadbent,  a member of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, in Cambridge University.  The workshops were financially sponsored by the Foundation for Genomics and Population Health (PHG), a not-for-profit British organization.

Broadbent’s workshops were intended for philosophers of science, statisticians, and epidemiologists, lawyers involved in health effects litigation will find the papers of interest as well.  The themes of workshops included:

  • the nature of epidemiologic causation,
  • the competing claims of observational and experimental research for establishing causation,
  • the role of explanation and prediction in assessing causality,
  • the role of moral values in causal judgments, and
  • the role of statistical and epistemic uncertainty in causal judgments

See Alex Broadbent, ed., “Special Section: Epidemiology, Risk, and Causation,” 53 Preventive Medicine 213-356 (October-November 2011).  Preventive Medicine is published by Elsevier Inc., so you know that the articles are not free.  Still you may want to read these at your local library to determine what may be useful in challenging and defending causal judgments in the courtroom.  One of the interlocutors, Sander Greenland, is of particular interest because he shows up as an expert witness with some regularity.

Here are the individual papers published in this special issue:

Alfredo Morabia, Michael C. Costanza, Philosophy and epidemiology

Alex Broadbent, Conceptual and methodological issues in epidemiology: An overview

Alfredo Morabia, Until the lab takes it away from epidemiology

Nancy Cartwright, Predicting what will happen when we act. What counts for warrant?

Sander Greenland, Null misinterpretation in statistical testing and its impact on health risk assessment

Daniel M. Hausman, How can irregular causal generalizations guide practice

Mark Parascandola, Causes, risks, and probabilities: Probabilistic concepts of causation in chronic disease epidemiology

John Worrall, Causality in medicine: Getting back to the Hill top

Olaf M. Dekkers, On causation in therapeutic research: Observational studies, randomised experiments and instrumental variable analysis

Alexander Bird, The epistemological function of Hill’s criteria

Michael Joffe, The gap between evidence discovery and actual causal relationships

Stephen John, Why the prevention paradox is a paradox, and why we should solve it: A philosophical view

Jonathan Wolff, How should governments respond to the social determinants of health?

Alex Broadbent, What could possibly go wrong? — A heuristic for predicting population health outcomes of interventions, Pages 256-259

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.