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J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;76(7):e857-61. doi: 10.4088/JCP.15f10150.

Understanding relative risk, odds ratio, and related terms: as simple as it can get.

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Department of Psychopharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India


Risk, and related measures of effect size (for categorical outcomes) such as relative risks and odds ratios, are frequently presented in research articles. Not all readers know how these statistics are derived and interpreted, nor are all readers aware of their strengths and limitations. This article examines several measures, including absolute risk, attributable risk, attributable risk percent, population attributable risk percent, relative risk, odds, odds ratio, and others. The concept and method of calculation are explained for each of these in simple terms and with the help of examples. The interpretation of each is presented in plain English rather than in technical language. Clinically useful notes are provided, wherever necessary.

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