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Epidemiology: Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Control Studies


  • Easy to conduct as no follow up is required
  • No attrition, as no follow up is needed
  • Gives faster results
  • Inexpensive
  • Suitable for rare and newly identified diseases
  • More than one risk factors can be studied simultaneously
  • Ethical problem lesser as disease has already occurred


  • The study depends upon the history given by the subject. Hence recall bias can occur
  • Sometimes finding and appropriate control is difficult
  • We can only establish an association between the disease and the risk factor as we don’t know what occurred first
  • We can’t know the incidence hence can’t calculate the relative risk (RR) directly from a case-control study

Examples of case-control studies:

  • Study of Reye’s syndrome
  • Study of adenocarcinoma of vagina
  • Oral contraceptives and thrombo-embolic phenomenon
  • Thalidomide tragedy

Tiwari P. Epidemiology Made Easy. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers; 2003
Gordis, L. (2014). Epidemiology (Fifth edition.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders.
Bonita, R., Beaglehole, R., Kjellström, T., & World Health Organization. (2006). Basic epidemiology. Geneva: World Health Organization.
Schneider, Dona, Lilienfeld, David E (Eds.), 4th ed. Lilienfeld’s Foundations of Epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press; 2015
K. Park. Principles of Epidemiology and Epidemiologic Methods. In Park’s Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 24th Ed. Jabalpur: Banarasidas Bhanot, 2017: pg 58 – 145

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Steps in Investigation of an Epidemic:
Tests of Significance:
Monitoring and Evaluation:
Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Control Studies:
Advantages and disadvantages of cohort study:
Basic Concepts in Epidemiology:
Types of Epidemiological Studies:
Differences between Case – control and cohort study:
Uses of epidemiology:
Blinding in Experimental Studies:
Evaluation of a Screening Test: