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Study Types

Study Types Resources

Study Type Guidelines

Glossary Terms

What are the five main study types in medical writing?

  • Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provide reliable answers as to how how effective a treatment is by comparing its effects with no treatment or a different form of treatment by randomly assigning participants to one of two or more groups.
  • Cohort studies involve "two (or more) groups that are exposed to different things are compared with each other."
  • Case-control studies "compare people who have a certain medical condition with people who do not have the medical condition, but who are otherwise as similar as possible."
  • Cross-sectional studies involve a random sample of people that are surveyed, and this is usually a quick and inexpensive type of study.
  • Qualitative studies are "based on information collected by talking to people who have a particular medical condition and people close to them;" written documents and/or observations can be used as well." 1


1. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What types of studies are there? 2016 Jun 15 [Updated 2016 Sep 8]. Available from:

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