The Arc of Epidemiology

Ezra Susser, Sharon Schwartz, Alfredo Morabia and Evelyn J. Bromet

in Psychiatric Epidemiology

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195101812
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199864096 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychiatry Series

The Arc of Epidemiology

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Medical Statistics and Methodology


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This chapter focuses on the evolution of causal research in epidemiology and how it influenced and was influenced by studies of psychiatric disorders. It discusses the three broad eras comprising the past evolution of epidemiology, spanning the period from the beginning of the 19th to the close of the 20th century (Sanitary Era, Infectious Disease Era, and Risk Factor Era). Each era lasted about fifty–seventy-five years and introduced a distinctive way of thinking about the causes of disease. The transition from one era to the next brought a powerful new strategy for finding causes and improving public health, but also led to the neglect of approaches developed in the previous eras, so that the field took ‘three steps forward and one step back.’ A fourth era is emerging, although its shape is not yet clear.

Keywords: psychiatric epidemiology; causal research; mental disorders; public health; Sanitary Era; Infectious Disease Era; Risk Factor Era

Chapter.  4631 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Medical Statistics and Methodology

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