Revista Española de Salud Pública
versión impresa ISSN 1135-5727
In this review the definition of «longitudinal study» is analysed. Most current textbooks on epidemiology do not define a longitudinal study, whereas statistical textbooks do. It is more common to talk about longitudinal data than about longitudinal studies. A longitudinal study implies the existence of repeated measurements (more than two) across follow-up. According to these ideas, a longitudinal study can be considered a subtype of cohort study that, in contrast with life-table cohort studies, allows inference to the subject level, to analyze changes in variables (exposures and outcomes) and transitions among different health states. The characteristics of this design force to paid special attention to quality control during data collection, losses during follow-up, and missing data in some measurements. The statistical analysis should take repeated measures into account, and it is what finally gives the longitudinal character to a study with repeated measurements.
Palabras clave : Longitudinal studies.