Originally recognized by Hippocrates as the father of medicine, epidemiology is a study of health and disease in a population. The study provides information for planning and implementing disease control and prevention measures. It also monitors health trends over time. The study is a scientific discipline that relies heavily on concepts from other disciplines.
There are three major analytic techniques used in epidemiology. Descriptive, experimental, and longitudinal. The most common technique used in an epidemiological study is descriptive, which involves collecting data on the occurrence of health-related events in a population. This data is then analyzed and collated by person, place, and time. The information generated is used to formulate hypotheses about the causes of health-related events and to calculate rates and measures of association. The data collected is also used to assess the effectiveness of control and prevention measures.
Another method of analytic study is cross-sectional, which involves surveying a population over a specific period. The results are interpreted using advanced techniques such as regression and stratified analysis. This method is usually used to study a particular disease or cluster of diseases.
A study using this method may reveal a relationship between two or more determinants, such as diet and tobacco smoke. The study may also identify emerging health issues. The time trend for this type of investigation is usually secular, which describes the occurrence of disease over a period of time. This trend is influenced by the population’s socioeconomic status and level of immunity. It is important to note that conclusions drawn from time trends should be carefully considered.
Another type of analytic study is longitudinal, which can reveal emerging health issues and assess the effectiveness of control and prevention measures. A study using this technique may involve a comparison of two or more groups of people. The study may also involve using experimental methods to test a hypothesis.
A study using this method may reveal that a particular disease may be genetic or caused by a particular agent. The study may also reveal that the occurrence of the disease is associated with other factors, such as age, sex, or lifestyle. This study may also identify high-risk groups for the disease.
Epidemiology is an interdisciplinary field that relies on concepts from other disciplines. In addition to statistics, researchers use models of the disease occurrence process to help understand the cause of the disease. The study of populations is also important because it enables investigators to identify disease preventive factors.
Epidemiologists study the distribution of disease in a population and monitor trends over time. The study provides information that helps public health officials assess the health of a population and to determine whether health services are adequate. These studies can also identify risk factors for epidemic outbreaks of disease.
Epidemiology is the foundation of disease surveillance. Public health surveillance now includes the study of health behaviors, environmental diseases, and chronic diseases. In the past, public health surveillance focused on communicable diseases. However, the field is expanding to include chronic diseases, occupational diseases, and birth defects.