Epidemiological Research: Terms and Concepts

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The host—agent—environment model is presented as the guide to comprehending disease occurrence and transmission in a population. Whereas epidemiology is the study of disease occurrence and transmission in a human population, epidemiological studies focus on the distribution and determinants of disease. Epidemiology may also be considered the method of public health—a scientific approach to studying disease and health problems.

The ethics and etiquette of epidemiological research

Epidemiology consists of research methods and specific strategies for counting and calculating the occurrence and risk of disease. Therefore, epidemiological studies of drug use employ these methods and statistical measures to study the occurrence and distribution of drug use and its associated problems. Examples of epidemiology applied to drug use include adverse drug reaction reporting, postmarketing surveillance studies, and clinical drug trials.

For example, health professionals are educated to focus on individual patient problems, and pharmacists are trained to consider individual patient variability in response to drug therapy. The focus in both of these areas in health care emphasizes interactions with individual patients.

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Health professionals sometimes assume that if their patient has a problem with a drug, then many other patients also have the same problem. This assumption may be flawed because the nature and extent of the problem in other patients cannot be known by these health professionals. Only by studying large groups of people ie, populations can the magnitude and reasons for a problem be determined. In contrast, the public Forgot Password? What is MyAccess? Otherwise it is hidden from view.

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Home Books Pharmacoepidemiology: Principles and Practice. Previous Chapter. Next Chapter. Epidemiology offers insight into why disease and injury afflict some people more than others, and why they occur more frequently in some locations and times than in others— knowledge necessary for finding the most effective ways to prevent and treat health problems. Epidemic is derived from the Greek roots epi upon and demos people.

The third component of epidemiology, the Greek root logos, means study.

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Demos and another Greek root, graphein to write, draw , combine to form the term demography, a kindred population-based science. Not only do epidemiology and demography share a linguistic heritage and other historical origins, they also overlap considerably in their data sources and research domains.

Epidemiology has a descriptive dimension that involves the identification and documentation of patterns, trends, and differentials in disease, injury, and other health-related phenomena. This science also has an analytic dimension, in which the etiology, or causes, of these phenomena are investigated. Epidemiology also helps investigate how well specific therapies or other health interventions prevent or control health problems. Because health is multifaceted, epidemiology is interdisciplinary.

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Epidemiology is substantively and traditionally connected to the health and biomedical sciences such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and pathology; and it is closely tied to statistics or, more precisely, biostatistics. In the search for solutions to health problems, however, the interdisciplinary net of epidemiology is often cast beyond these traditional boundaries to incorporate still other disciplines, such as social and behavioral sciences, communications, engineering, law, cartography, and computer science.

The complexity of health problems has even spawned specialties within the discipline, including clinical epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, nutritional epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, injury epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, social epidemiology, and veterinary epidemiology. Many epidemiologists have earned degrees in medicine or some other specialty as well as graduate degrees or certificates in epidemiology.

They work in diverse occupational settings— including international, national, and local health agencies and universities; teaching hospitals; and private corporations. Epidemiologists may be found, for example, in the chemical, pharmaceutical, electronics, energy, automotive manufacturing, and air travel industries. Epidemiology provides a unique way of viewing and investigating disease and injury. The keys to understanding health, injury, and disease are embedded in the language and methods of epidemiology.

  • Epidemiological Research: Terms and Concepts.
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  • The ethics and etiquette of epidemiological research.

Many of the basic epidemiologic concepts are familiar to most people, although only superficially understood. They reside in such everyday terms as exposure, risk factor, epidemic, and bias.

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This Population Bulletin explains the terms, methods, and materials scientists use to study the health of populations, as well as the historical underpinnings of the modern-day science of epidemiology.

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