Resources for Causal Reasoning in Health Services Research

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Glossary of Terms

Causal inference
Definition
Causal inference

the thought process to conclude whether a relation of cause to effect exists.

Counterfactual reasoning
Definition
Counterfactual reasoning

comparing potential outcomes of alternative interventions with observed outcomes in a thought experiment

Randomness
Definition
Randomness

the lack of deterministic pattern in occurrence

Identifiability of causal effects
Definition
Identifiability of causal effects

the causal effect of intervention is identifiable if all backdoor paths between intervention and outcome variables can be blocked in the causal diagram; stratifying on the sufficient set removes all confounding bias in estimates of the causal effect of X on Y

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