Epidemiological study reporting is improving but is not transparent enough for easy evaluation or replication. One barrier is insufficient details about design elements in published studies. Using a previously conducted drug safety evaluation in claims as a test case, we investigated the impact of small changes in five key design elements on risk estimation. These elements are index day of incident exposure's determination of look-back or follow-up periods, exposure duration algorithms, heparin exposure exclusion, propensity score model variables, and Cox proportional hazard model stratification. We covaried these elements using a fractional factorial design, resulting in 24 risk estimates for one outcome. We repeated eight of these combinations for two additional outcomes. We measured design effects on cohort sizes, follow-up time, and risk estimates.