Nested case-control studies

Prev Med. 1994 Sep;23(5):587-90. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1994.1093.


The nested case-control study design (or the case-control in a cohort study) is described here and compared with other designs, including the classic case-control and cohort studies and the case-cohort study. In the nested case-control study, cases of a disease that occur in a defined cohort are identified and, for each, a specified number of matched controls is selected from among those in the cohort who have not developed the disease by the time of disease occurrence in the case. For many research questions, the nested case-control design potentially offers impressive reductions in costs and efforts of data collection and analysis compared with the full cohort approach, with relatively minor loss in statistical efficiency. The nested case-control design is particularly advantageous for studies of biologic precursors of disease. To advance its prevention research agenda, NIH might be encouraged to maintain a registry of new and existing cohorts, with an inventory of data collected for each; to foster the development of specimen banks; and to serve as a clearinghouse for information about optimal storage conditions for various types of specimens.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Preventive Medicine