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Twins and Causal Inference: Leveraging Nature's Experiment

McAdams, TA; Rijsdijk, FV; Zavos, HMS; Pingault, J-B; (2020) Twins and Causal Inference: Leveraging Nature's Experiment. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 10.1101/cshperspect.a039552. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In this review, we discuss how samples comprising monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs can be used for the purpose of strengthening causal inference by controlling for shared influences on exposure and outcome. We begin by briefly introducing how twin data can be used to inform the biometric decomposition of population variance into genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental influences. We then discuss how extensions to this model can be used to explore whether associations between exposure and outcome survive correction for shared etiology (common causes). We review several analytical approaches that can be applied to twin data for this purpose. These include multivariate structural equation models, cotwin control methods, direction of causation models (cross-sectional and longitudinal), and extended family designs used to assess intergenerational associations. We conclude by highlighting some of the limitations and considerations that researchers should be aware of when using twin data for the purposes of interrogating causal hypotheses.

Type: Article
Title: Twins and Causal Inference: Leveraging Nature's Experiment
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a039552
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a039552
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110712
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