In cohort and case-control studies, confounding that arises as a result of differences in the distribution of determinants of the outcome between exposure groups leading to non-exchangeability are addressed by restriction, matching or with statistical models. In case-only studies, this issue is addressed by comparing each individual with his/herself. Although case-only designs use self-matching and only include individuals who develop the outcome of interest, issues of non-exchangeability are identical to those that arise in traditional case-control and cohort studies. In this review, we describe one type of case-only design, the case-crossover design, and discuss how the concept of exchangeability can be used to understand issues of confounding, carryover effects, period effects and selection bias in case-crossover studies.
Keywords: Epidemiology; case-crossover.
© The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.