Research Techniques Made Simple: Interpreting Measures of Association in Clinical Research

J Invest Dermatol. 2019 Mar;139(3):502-511.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.12.023.


To bring evidence-based improvements in medicine and health care delivery to clinical practice, health care providers must know how to interpret clinical research findings and critically evaluate the strength of evidence. This requires an understanding of differences in clinical study designs and the various statistical methods used to identify associations. We aim to provide a foundation for understanding the common measures of association used in epidemiologic studies to quantify relationships between exposures and outcomes, including relative risks, odds ratios, and hazard ratios. We also provide a framework for critically assessing clinical research findings and highlight specific methodologic concerns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Epidemiologic Methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Research Design / trends