Epidemiology 1: Basic Concepts

Cindy Kermott

in Mayo Clinic Preventive Medicine and Public Health Board Review

Published on behalf of © Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780199743018
Published online June 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199929603 | DOI:

Series: Mayo Clinic Scientific Press

Epidemiology 1: Basic Concepts

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Descriptive and analytic methods are used in epidemiologic investigations. Statistical tools are used to describe data, evaluate hypotheses, and apply causal theory. Epidemiologic research can be used to determine whether a causative relationship exists between a disease and its associated factors. Epidemiologic data can be collected by government agencies, hospitals, medical insurance carriers, third-party payers, physician practices, and managed care programs. Each data collection system has potential weaknesses such as introduced errors, incomplete records, limited access, and nonrepresentative populations. Registries are detailed listings of all occurrences of a disease or condition within a defined region. An outbreak investigation begins by establishing the existence of an outbreak. After the case definition is established, factors such as person, time, and place are used to develop causal hypotheses. The hypotheses are tested to evaluate credibility, and reconsideration or refinement of the hypotheses may be necessary. Control measures may be taken before the outbreak source or route of spread is ascertained. Prevention and control measures must be communicated.

Chapter.  5729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Epidemiology

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