Study Types in Orthopaedics Research: Is My Study Design Appropriate for the Research Question?1

Isabella Zaniletti, Katrina L. Devick, Dirk R. Larson, David G. Lewallen, Daniel J. Berry, Hilal Maradit Kremers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When performing orthopaedic clinical research, alternative study designs can be more appropriate depending on the research question, availability of data, and feasibility. The most common observational study designs in total joint arthroplasty research are cohort and cross-sectional studies. This article describes methodological considerations for different study designs with examples from the total joint arthroplasty literature. We highlight the advantages and feasibility of experimental and observational study designs using real-world examples. We illustrate how to avoid common mistakes, such as incorrect labeling of matched cohort studies as case-control studies. We further guide investigators through a step-by-step design of a case-control study. We conclude with considerations when choosing between alternative study designs. Please visit the following for videos that explain the highlights of the article in practical terms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1939-1944
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • bias
  • case-control
  • cohort
  • databases
  • epidemiology
  • total joint arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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