Approaches to improve causal inference in physical activity epidemiology

Lynch, Brigid M. and Dixon-Suen, Suzanne C. and Varela, Andrea Ramirez and Yang, Yi and English, Dallas R. and Ding, Ding and Gardiner, Paul A. ORCID: and Boyle, Terry (2020) Approaches to improve causal inference in physical activity epidemiology. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 17 (1). pp. 80-84. ISSN 1543-3080


Background: It is not always clear whether physical activity is causally related to health outcomes, or whether the associations are induced through confounding or other biases. Randomized controlled trials of physical activity are not feasible when outcomes of interest are rare or develop over many years. Thus, we need methods to improve causal inference in observational physical activity studies. Methods:We outline a range of approaches that can improve causal inference in observational physical activity research, and also discuss the impact of measurement error on results and methods to minimize this. Results: Key concepts and methods described include directed acyclic graphs, quantitative bias analysis, Mendelian randomization, and potential outcomes approaches which include propensity scores, g methods, and causal mediation. Conclusions: We provide a brief overview of some contemporary epidemiological methods that are beginning to be used in physical activity research. Adoption of these methods will help build a stronger body of evidence for the health benefits of physical activity. © 2020 Human Kinetics, Inc.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2021 07:04
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2021 00:16
Uncontrolled Keywords: biostatistics; causal inference; methods; potential outcomes approach
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420204 Epidemiological methods
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