Rigorous evaluation of associations in epidemiology is essential, especially given big data, data mining, and hypothesis-free analyses. There is a precedent in making judgments on associations in the monographs of the International Agency for Research on Cancer; however, only the carcinogenic effects of exposures are examined. The idea of a World Council of Epidemiology and Causality to undertake rigorous, independent, comprehensive examination of associations has been debated, including in a workshop at the International Epidemiology Association's 20th World Congress of Epidemiology, 2014. The objective of the workshop was both to, briefly, debate the idea and set out further questions and next steps. The principal conclusion from feedback including from the workshop is that the World Council of Epidemiology and Causality idea, notwithstanding challenges, has promise and deserves more debate. The preferred model is for a small independent body working closely with relevant partners with a distributed approach to tasks. Recommendations are contextualized in contemporary approaches in causal thinking in epidemiology.
- Causality, Associations, Evaluating associations