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— In treatment comparisons, the inadvertent application of a treatment allocated to one comparison group to people in another comparison group

Full explanation:

In a study where one comparison group receives a treatment, for example, a specific type of advice or surgery, and the other comparison group does not receive that treatment, contamination occurs when people allocated to not receiving the treatment receive it, or people allocated to receive the treatment do not receive it.

Sometimes, in cluster randomized studies, clusters (groups) of people are allocated to treatments rather than individuals, to reduce the risk of contamination.

See also:

cluster randomized study

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