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Selecting appropriate study designs to address specific research questions in occupational epidemiology
  1. Harvey Checkoway1,
  2. Neil Pearce2,
  3. David Kriebel3
  1. 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington USA and International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
  2. 2Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University Wellington Campus, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor H Checkoway
 University of Washington, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Box 357234, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; checko{at}


Various epidemiological study designs are available to investigate illness and injury risks related to workplace exposures. The choice of study design to address a particular research question will be guided by the nature of the health outcome under study, its presumed relation to workplace exposures, and feasibility constraints. This review summarises the relative advantages and limitations of conventional study designs including cohort studies, cross-sectional studies, repeated measures studies, case-control (industry- and community-based) studies, and more recently developed variants of the nested case-control design: case-cohort and case-crossover studies.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.