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Ann Epidemiol. 1993 Jan;3(1):86-92.

The use of restricted controls to prevent recall bias in case-control studies of reproductive outcomes.

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Division of Epidemiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.


Recall bias or report bias is said to occur when associations are distorted or created because case informants report events differently from controls. Some investigators have suggested that this bias can be prevented by choosing controls who have conditions similar to those found in the case group. We use the term "restricted-control group" for such a control series. Although using a restricted-control series may eliminate differential misclassification, this approach will usually not eliminate nondifferential misclassification and may create selection bias. In this article, we present a way to algebraically examine the effects of misclassification and selection bias on observed associations. We use this method to compare the impact of recall bias in a study using a population control group with the effects of selection bias and nondifferential misclassification if a restricted-control group is used. Our approach is exemplified using data from a case-control study of sudden infant death syndrome. Our findings show that even when recall bias exists, the observed association can be closer to the true association when a population control series is used than when a restricted-control group is used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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