Case-control studies in pediatric epidemiology: parent surrogates and potential pitfalls of inaccurate and selective recall

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Bias (Epidemiology); *Case-Control Studies; Child; *Epidemiologic Methods; Humans; Interviews as Topic; Medical Records; Mental Recall; Morbidity; Parents; *Pediatrics; Reproducibility of Results; Risk Factors


Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


The case-control study is quite popular as a study design for exploring associations between risk factors and disease in pediatric epidemiology. Since data concerning exposures to the child are often collected through interviews with parents or other surrogates, researchers should be aware of the opportunities for bias due to inaccurate or incomplete recall. Methods which exist for the control of this problem are presented. These include: the selection of control groups with childhood conditions of similar etiologic uncertainty as the disease being studied; collecting exposure data from both parents; collection of data from children where possible; diligent interviewer training; reviewing clinical records; and use of validity scales. Strengths and weaknesses of these strategies are discussed.


Soz Praventivmed. 1992;37(1):22-6.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Sozial- und Praventivmedizin

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed