Natural experiments: An overview of methods, approaches, and contributions to public health intervention research

Craig, P. , Katikireddi, S. V. , Leyland, A. and Popham, F. (2017) Natural experiments: An overview of methods, approaches, and contributions to public health intervention research. Annual Review of Public Health, 38, pp. 39-56. (doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031816-044327) (PMID:28125392)

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Population health interventions are essential to reduce health inequalities and tackle other public health priorities, but they are not always amenable to experimental manipulation. Natural experiment (NE) approaches are attracting growing interest as a way of providing evidence in such circumstances. One key challenge in evaluating NEs is selective exposure to the intervention. Studies should be based on a clear theoretical understanding of the processes that determine exposure. Even if the observed effects are large and rapidly follow implementation, confidence in attributing these effects to the intervention can be improved by carefully considering alternative explanations. Causal inference can be strengthened by including additional design features alongside the principal method of effect estimation.NEstudies often rely on existing (including routinely collected) data. Investment in such data sources and the infrastructure for linking exposure and outcome data is essential if the potential for such studies to inform decision making is to be realized.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Popham, Dr Timothy and Craig, Dr Peter and Katikireddi, Dr Srinivasa and Leyland, Professor Alastair
Authors: Craig, P., Katikireddi, S. V., Leyland, A., and Popham, F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Annual Review of Public Health
Publisher:Annual Reviews
ISSN (Online):1545-2093
Published Online:11 January 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Annual Reviews
First Published:First published in Annual Review of Public Health 38:39-56
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727651SPHSU Core Renewal: Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health Research ProgrammeAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
699162Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiScottish Executive Health Department (SEHHD-CSO)SCAF/15/02IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU