Ethical constraints often prevent epidemiological studies from evaluating the impact of non-participation. Particular problems may arise when subjects fail to respond to an approach by researchers or when they cannot be contacted because of inaccurate contact details or a doctor's refusal to give permission for their patient to be approached. If these subjects differ from those subjects who agree or decline to participate then the validity and generalisability of the study may be compromised. We investigated these issues in a case-control study of acute leukaemia in England
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