The Bradford Hill Criteria: The Forgotten Predicate

Introduction -

In product liability litigation, the determinants of causation between an agent and a disease are frequently a critical issue. In 1965 Sir Austin Bradford Hill, a British epidemiologist and statistician, delivered a speech to the Royal Society of Medicine in which he presented a list of what are often referred to as the Bradford Hill criteria. With increasing frequency, state and federal courts mention these criteria when discussing the admissibility of epidemiological evidence, however, they provide limited analysis of them. In view of this limited analysis by counsel and the courts, it seems appropriate to explore the significance of the Bradford Hill criteria—if any—in consideration of the admissibility of epidemiological evidence on the issue of causation.

Bradford Hill’s list was an expansion of one offered previously in the landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health (1964). Hill himself never labeled the criteria as such.

Originally published in the Thomas Jefferson Law Review Vol. 35:2.

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