Concepts in Epidemiological Studies
From the little discussion above, epidemiology is seen to have a lot to do with the human population, disease, health, data, studies /research etc. it is therefore imperative to define some of this terms;
Population: This refers to the complete collection of individuals that have some particular characteristic in common. Depending on the characteristic being considered, a population can be very large or small.
Population at Risk: This is a subset of the original defined population and comprises the total number of individuals in that original population that are considered capable of acquiring the particular disease / diseases characteristic being studied. Example, we might be interested in studying the frequency with which abortion occurs in females between 13 – 20 years. In this case the population at risk does not include females outside this range or males.
More on The Study and Concepts in Epidemiological Studies
Determinant: A determinant is any factor or variable that can affect the frequency with which a disease occurs in a population. Determinate could be (i) intrinsic (physiological or internally) or (ii) extrinsic (egg environmental influence or interventions).
Prevalence: This refers to the proportion of a population found to have a condition (typically a disease or a risk factor such as smoking.
Incidence: This is a measure of new cases arising in a population over a given period (month or year or a given number of years). While prevalence is “how many people have this disease right now”, incidence is “how many people per year newly acquire this disease”?
Disease Surveillance: This is an epidemiological practice by which the spread of disease is monitored in order to establish patterns of progression. The main role of disease surveillance is to predict, observe, and minimize the harm caused by outbreak, epidemic and pandemic situations.
Infection: This refers to the invasion of a host organisms bodily tissues by disease causing organisms, their multiplication and the reaction of host tissues to these organisms and the toxins they produce.
Epidemiologist: An epidemiologist is one who investigates and describes “the determinants and distribution of disease disability, and other health outcomes in defined population groups and develops the means for prevention and control. An epidemiologist identifies and responds to communicable disease outbreaks by collecting, managing and analyzing specific data.
They are the detectives who research the causes and consequences of illness and disease. This discipline is critical to disease prevention be cause it sheds light on why a particular disease originates, how it spreads and its effective control.
Study Design: This is a specific plan or protocol for conducting a study which allows the investigator to translate the conceptual hypothesis into an operational one. It includes both qualitative and quantitative designs.
Epidemiological Triad: The epidemiology traid is a modes of how an infections disease is spread. It consists of agent (the organism that does the infecting such as a virus or parasite); a host (the organism that is being infected by the agent) and an environment (the place and correct conditions for the agent to infect the host).
Infection: The invasion of a host organism’s bodily tissues by disease causing organisms, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to these organisms and the injurious a gents (toxins) they produce.
Disease Surveillance: This is an epidemiology practice by which the spread of disease u’s’ monitored in order to establish patterns of progression. The main role of disease surveillance is to predict, observe, and minimize the harm caused by outbreak, epidemic and pandemic, situations, as well as increase knowledge about which factors contribute to such circumstances.
Communicable Diseases: A communicable disease is an illness that occurs due to a specific causative agent or its toxic products which arises through transmission of that agent or its products from a reservoir to a susceptible host(s) either directly (as from an infected person or animal) or indirectly through an intermediate plant or animal, host, vector or the inanimate environment.
Disease Etiology: This refers to the branch of medicine that deals with the causes or origins of disease. It can be said to also be the assignment of a cause, an origin, or a reason for disease.
Disease etiology is the branch of medical science that studies the causes of diseases and the factors underlying their spread.
Concepts in Epidemiological Studies
Case Study: This is a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular instance of something used or analyzed.
Illustrate a principle in epidemiology case study is more of a empirical inquiry. Case studies are interactive exercise developed to teach epidemiologic principles and practices. They are based on real life outbreaks and public health problems.
Case studies requires students and researchers to apply their epidemiologic knowledge and skills to problems confronted by public health practitioners at the local, state, and national level everyday.
A case study could be computer based classroom based or even an outbreak simulation. In all, it provides the researcher with the opportunity to find answers to real life situations outbreaks.
Disease Control: This refers to the reduction in the incidence, prevalence, morbidity or mortality of an infections disease to a locally acceptable level; elimination as reduction to zero of the incidence of disease or infection in a defined geographical area.
Screening: Screening is a strategy used in a population to identify an unrecognized disease in individuals without signs or symptoms. This can include individuals with pre-symptomatic or unrecognized symptomatic disease screening interventions are designed to identify disease in a community early, thus enabling earlier intervention and management in the hope to reduce mortality rate of a disease.