About study types

Let’s Get Healthy! conducts two types of observational research studies.

  • Cross-sectional: Most of our studies are “cross-sectional”, which means they look at a population at a given point in time. These studies can be used to measure prevalence (e.g. the percent of obese individuals in a population) or look at correlations among health factors. But, since they use outcomes measured at one time point only, they can’t be used to distinguish between cause and effect. This type of study works very well for anonymous research designs and cross-sectional studies can be done relatively quickly and easily.
  • Cohort: In contrast, “cohort” studies measure changes in a group of individuals (called a “cohort”) over time. As a result, these types of studies can be used to distinguish between cause and effect. Cohort studies are also beneficial for determining incidence (new cases of a disease), potential causes, and predicting outcomes. Because you’re following individuals, you can’t use anonymous research procedures very easily. As a result, we use a separate informed consent procedure with our cohort study participants.

Then there are:

  • Intervention Studies: These are studies that are not observational because they implement a change and measure its effect. For example, creating a physical activity program for schools and measuring the difference in physical activity in students attending schools with and without the program. Currently, we are not conducting any intervention studies.

Regardless of the research study design we choose, all of our procedures must be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) before talking with potential participants! IRBs are present at every university conducting research and are very important because they protect participants in research studies.

For a description of observational research methods, see:

  • C J Mann. Observational research methods. Research design II: cohort, cross sectional, and case-control studies. Emerg Med J 2003;20:54-60 doi:10.1136/emj.20.1.54

Interested in participating in a human research study?

Visit www.researchmatch.org to find a study based on location, topic or researcher!

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