Three Arguments for Absolute Outcome Measures

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):840-852 (2017)
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Data from medical research are typically summarized with various types of outcome measures. We present three arguments in favor of absolute over relative outcome measures. The first argument is from cognitive bias: relative measures promote the reference class fallacy and the overestimation of treatment effectiveness. The second argument is decision-theoretic: absolute measures are superior to relative measures for making a decision between interventions. The third argument is causal: interpreted as measures of causal strength, absolute measures satisfy a set of desirable properties, but relative measures do not. Absolute outcome measures outperform relative measures on all counts.
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