A case-control study compares the infected individuals to healthy persons. It helps determine the frequency of exposure to a risk factor for the two categories and distinguishes the relationship between the disease and the main cause. It is strictly observational because there is no attempt by an investigator to influence the disease course. This kind of research is also known as retrospective studies. A case-control study has various characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, and it is either descriptive or analytical.
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The main characteristic of case-control is that it is prone to biasness since the data on probable risk factors are collected with a hint. When selecting cases and controls, the main essential features are the representation from the source population which formed the cases, independent sampled controls, and possible exposure to risks (Setia, 2016). The features may be violated if there is a need to over-match the cases. However, overmatching enhances the difficulty in finding adequate controls to be used in the research. Some of the limitations of using questionnaires to determine the exposure status are biasness and the restriction of the number of questions to be asked. A researcher has no authority over how the respondent will answer the queries; thus, respondents may give false information. However, sampling and observation can be alternative strategies for collecting data in a case-control study. Hence, this type of research can easily be manipulated by the researcher or respondents.
The strengths of the cross-sectional study include cost-effectiveness and ease of use. It is also reliable in producing a hypothesis and providing a descriptive analysis (Setia, 2016). Moreover, it saves time in collecting variable data since they are gathered at once. This kind of research also provides room to study multiple exposure and the outcomes. The weaknesses include the inability to measure incidence, difficulty in interpreting the identified associations, and being prone to biases. It can be descriptive when used to evaluate an infection’s frequency and distribution in a given population. However, it is analytical when used to investigate the relationship between health outcomes and an alleged risk factor. COVID-19 is a disease where survival could influence the association between a possible exposure and the disease. Thus, in as much as cross-sectional study has strengths, it also has a number of weaknesses.
Succinctly, case-control studies are essential in the field of health. However, they are prone to biases since a researcher has no control over the outcome. The study is strictly observational, and it involves comparing healthy individuals with infected patients. The method is cost-friendly and can be easily performed, though it cannot measure the incidence and is susceptible to biases.
Setia, M. S. (2016). Methodology series module 2: Case-control studies. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 61(2), 146-151. Web.