Resources for Causal Reasoning in Health Services Research

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Glossary of Terms

Markov assumption
Definition
Markov assumption

conditional on its parents, a variable is independent of any other variable in the directed acyclic graph

Causal inference
Definition
Causal inference

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

Directed acyclic graph (DAG)
Definition
Directed acyclic graph (DAG)

a graph in which nodes represent variables and arrows represent influence between the variables they connect without loops; an arrow drawn from variable X to variable Y represents a dependency of Y on X, and no dependency of X on Y

Back door criterion
Definition
Back door criterion

identifies variables blocking all biasing paths that would result in association between X and Y; a set of variables S relative to variables X and Y such that no variable from S is a descendent of X and S blocks all backdoors paths from X to Y

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