Definition of Screening Status in Case-Control Studies of the Efficacy of Endoscopy

Noel S. Weiss
Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(10):1113. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00040041113013.
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By using records of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Müller and Sonnenberg1 were able to undertake a very large case-control study of the efficacy of endoscopic screening for colorectal cancer. However, the disadvantage of using data from this source is the inability to characterize individual endoscopic examinations regarding their intent, ie, screening vs response to a symptom or sign. The inclusion of nonscreening examinations in the analysis would serve to minimize the estimated efficacy of screening, since patients with fatal colorectal cancer would be far more likely to have had an examination of this type than controls without colorectal cancer. Recognizing this potential bias, Müller and Sonnenberg restricted their comparison to examinations performed before those that led to the diagnosis of colorectal cancer. However, this approach has its own drawbacks, for it will effectively ignore the most relevant portion of the screening history of those fatal cases in which


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