Prospective study

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Prospective study

A prospective study (sometimes called a prospective cohort study) is a type of cohort study, or group study, where participants are enrolled into the study before they develop the disease or outcome in question. The opposite is a retrospective study, where researchers enroll people who already have the disease/condition. Prospective studies typically last a few years, with some lasting for decades.

Study participants typically have to meet certain criteria to be involved in the study. For example, they may have to be of a certain age, profession, or race. Once the participants are enrolled, they are followed for a period of time to see who gets the outcome in question (and who doesn’t).

Participants are followed for years and data is collected on the factors of interest, which might include:

  • When the subject develops the condition,
  • When they drop out of the study or become “lost”,
  • When their exposure status changes,
  • When they die.

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