An epidemiological study in health news

When we read health-related news that describes results from an epidemiological study, we usually see various types of study design used to achieve the research question. How can we identify types of study designs and justify the reliability of the information?

So, I give an example of health news that provides the information from the epidemiological study and will explain the study design used in this study.

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of health outcomes or diseases in a population and the causes or factors that influence those distributions.

News headline:

“Steroid Drugs Are an Effective Treatment for Severe COVID-19: WHO”


Briefly, a researcher team at the World Health Organization (WHO) conducting a meta-analysis of seven randomized controlled trials concluded that steroid drugs including dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, and methylprednisolone associated with decreasing 28-day mortality among severe COVID-19 patients who received the drugs compared with those who received standard care or placebo. The drugs are effective a COVID-19 treatment for critically ill patients. This investigation is published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on 2 September 2020.

For the epidemiological study, the type of this study is an experimental study because the investigator assigns the intervention. In an experimental study, the investigator randomly allocates the participants who receive the drug in a trial. Some participants receive the drug while others receive a placebo. Random allocation is an important process that makes all participants have an equal chance to receive the drug because the participants who receive the drug are unpredictable. The experimental study based on the random allocation process is called a randomized controlled trial. After the random allocation process, the investigator will observe the health outcome in the patients who receive the drug compared with those who receive a placebo to detect the efficacy of the drug.

For study design, this study uses a meta-analysis which is a method for combining and integrating results from several previous studies. Seven randomized controlled trials are pooled in this study to evaluate the efficacy of all three steroid drugs and develop a conclusion.

The information obtained from this study is highly reliable because a randomized controlled trial is considered a gold standard for studying the effectiveness of the intervention or treatment due to the elimination of bias. Moreover, the meta-analysis combine results from randomized controlled trials resulting in a large number of participants are analyzed. Therefore, this study provides strong and reliable evidence.

If you want to know more about this news, please go to the link below to read the full news.

Finally, I hope this article will help everyone to more understand study designs in epidemiology that behind the information in health news :)





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Pang Arissara

Pang Arissara

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