An experimental study is used to judge the cause and effect relationship of the risk factors or, more commonly, the preventative factors and the development of disease. Experimental studies are done most frequently to assess the value of a particular intervention or treatment, such as antimicrobial drug therapy. The effectiveness of the treatment is compared with one of known value or with a placebo. A placebo is a mock drug; it looks and tastes like the experimental drug but has no medicinal value. To assess the value of the experimental drug, a group of patients is divided into two subgroups, one of which will be given the treatment and the other an alternative or a placebo. To avoid bias, an experimental study should ideally be doubleblind, where neither the physicians nor the patients know who is receiving the actual treatment. Ethical issues sometimes necessitate the use of experimental animals rather than patients in experimental studies.
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