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Case Series

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Updated January 26, 2014

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Definition: A case series is a form of reporting that involves detailed investigation of one or more cases of a disease. Unlike many forms of epidemiology research that look at large populations of people and try to draw inferences about the association between risk factors and a disease, case series investigate a small number of sick people in detail.

Like cohort and case-control studies, case series are considered to be an observational (as opposed to experimental) study design. They are usually collected retrospectively (after the fact).

Case series are usually done early in the study of a new condition, in order to try and generate hypotheses about what factors might be involved in that disease. They may also be written up by doctors who see an unusual presentation of a more common disease, to provide other physicians with insights about how the different ways in which that disease works.

In general, case series can not be used to draw conclusions about the associations between a risk factor and a disease. They are more often used as a jumping-off point for future research.

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