Cross-sectional study


Cross-sectional study

Cross-sectional studies (also known as Cross-sectional analysis) form a class of research methods that involve observation of all of a population, or a representative subset, at one specific point in time. They differ from case-control studies in that they aim to provide data on the entire population under study, whereas case-control studies typically include only individuals with a specific characteristic, with a sample, often a tiny minority, of the rest of the population. Cross-sectional studies are descriptive studies (neither observational nor experimental). Unlike case-control studies, they can be used to describe absolute risks and not only relative risks.[citation needed] They may be used to describe some feature of the population, such as prevalence of an illness, or they may support inferences of cause and effect. Longitudinal studies differ from both in making a series of observations more than once on members of the study population over a period of time.

Contents

Cross-Sectional Studies in Medicine

Cross-sectional studies involve data collected at a defined time. They are often used to assess the prevalence of acute or chronic conditions, or to answer questions about the causes of disease or the results of medical intervention. They may also be described as censuses. Cross-sectional studies may involve special data collection, including questions about the past, but they often rely on data originally collected for other purposes. It is moderately expensive, not suitable for rare diseases. Difficulty in recalling past events may also contribute bias.

Use of routine data: large scale, low cost to the researcher

The use of routinely collected data allows large cross-sectional studies to be made at little or no expense. This is a major advantage over other forms of epidemiological study. A natural progression has been suggested from cheap cross-sectional studies of routinely collected data which suggest hypotheses, to case-control studies testing them more specifically, then to cohort studies and trials which cost much more and take much longer, but may give stronger evidence. In a cross-sectional survey, a specific group is looked at to see if an activity, say alcohol consumption, is related to the health effect being investigated, say cirrhosis of the liver. If alcohol use is correlated with cirrhosis of the liver, this would support the hypothesis that alcohol use may cause cirrhosis.

Routine data not designed to answer the specific question

However, routinely collected data does not normally describe which variable is the cause and which the effect. Cross-sectional studies using data originally collected for other purposes are often unable to include data on confounding factors, other variables that affect the relationship between the putative cause and effect. For example, data only on present alcohol consumption and cirrhosis would not allow the role of past alcohol consumption, or of other causes, to be explored.

Most case-control studies collect specifically designed data on all participants, including data fields designed to allow the hypothesis of interest to be tested. However, in issues where strong personal feelings may be involved, specific questions may be a source of bias. For example, past alcohol consumption may be incorrectly reported by an individual wishing to reduce their personal feelings of guilt. Such bias may be less in routinely collected statistics, or effectively eliminated if the observations are made by third parties, for example taxation records of alcohol by area.

Aggregated data and the "ecological fallacy"

Cross-sectional studies can contain individual-level data (one record per individual, for example, in national health surveys). However, in modern epidemiology it may be impossible to survey the entire population of interest, so cross-sectional studies often involve secondary analysis of data collected for another purpose. In many such cases, no individual records are available to the researcher, and group-level information must be used. Major sources of such data are often large institutions like the Census Bureau or the Centers for Disease Control in the United States. Recent census data is not provided on individuals - in the UK individual census data is released only after a century. Instead data are aggregated, usually by administrative area. Inferences about individuals based on aggregate data are weakened by the ecological fallacy. Also consider the potential for committing the "atomistic fallacy" where assumptions about aggregated counts are made based on the aggregation of individual level data (such as averaging census tracts to calculate a county average). For example, it might be true that there is no correlation between infant mortality and family income at the city level, while still being true that there is a strong relationship between infant mortality and family income at the individual level. All aggregate statistics are subject to compositional effects, so that what matters is not only the individual-level relationship between income and infant mortality, but also the proportions of low, middle, and high income individuals in each city. Because case-control studies are usually based on individual-level data, they do not have this problem.

See also

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cross-sectional study — A study done at one time, not over the course of time. A cross sectional study might be of a disease such as AIDS at one point in time to learn its prevalence and distribution within the population. Also known as a synchronic study. * * * the… …   Medical dictionary

  • cross-sectional study — momentinis tyrimas statusas T sritis biomedicinos mokslai apibrėžtis ↑Analitinis stebėjimo tyrimas, kurį atliekant nustatomas ligų ir ↑rizikos veiksnių paplitimas tarp ↑populiacijos narių tam tikru laikotarpiu. atitikmenys: angl. cross sectional… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • cross-sectional study — Stats a statistical study in which a variety of information is collected at the same time, for example, in a single telephone call …   The ultimate business dictionary

  • cross-sectional study — the collection and analysis of information relating to persons in a population or group at a defined point in time (or within a defined period), with particular reference to their disease status, individual characteristics and exposure to factors …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Изучение Профильное (Cross-Sectional Study) — сбор и анализ информации, относящейся к представителям какого либо слоя населения или труппы в определенный момент времени (или в течение определенного периода времени); особое внимание при этом уделяется их индивидуальным характеристикам, а… …   Медицинские термины

  • Cross-sectional data — or cross section (of a study population) in statistics and econometrics is a type of one dimensional data set. Cross sectional data refers to data collected by observing many subjects (such as individuals, firms or countries/regions) at the same… …   Wikipedia

  • Study, cross-sectional — A study done at one time, not over the course of time. A cross sectional study a disease such as AIDS might be designed to learn its prevalence and distribution within the population at one point in time. Also known as a synchronic study …   Medical dictionary

  • cross-sectional analysis — cross sectional analysis, cross sectional data Statistical analysis which provides information on the characteristics of, and statistical relationships between, individual units of study at a specified moment in time (the moment of data… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • cross-sectional data — cross sectional analysis, cross sectional data Statistical analysis which provides information on the characteristics of, and statistical relationships between, individual units of study at a specified moment in time (the moment of data… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Cross-Sectional Ratio Analysis — A method of analysis that compares a firm s ratios with some chosen industry benchmark. The benchmark usually chosen is the average ratio value for all firms in an industry for the time period under study. Bloomberg Financial Dictionary …   Financial and business terms


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.