Epidemiological Research Of Public Health

Epidemiological Research Of Public Health

Robert Friis (Chair, Health Sciences Department, California State University, Long Beach ) gives expert video advice on: Which characteristics determine my susceptibility to a disease?; How important is my sex in determining my susceptibility to disease?; How important is my marital status in determining my susceptibility to disease? and more...

What is 'descriptive epidemiology'?

Descriptive epidemiology is the branch of epidemiology that aims to show how diseases are distributed in the population according to the variables of person, time and place.

What is a 'descriptive epidemiological study'?

A descriptive epidemiologic study refers to a type of study that is used to describe the occurrence of disease in a population. That is, it's distribution according to the descriptive variables of person, time and place.

What are the objectives of descriptive epidemiology?

The objectives of descriptive epidemiology are three-fold. One is to evaluate trends and the occurrence of disease, the second one is to provide a basis for planning and evaluation of health services and the third is to set the stage for further analytic studies.

What's the difference between descriptive and analytic epidemiology?

Descriptive epidemiology attempts to show how a problem or condition varies in the population, and to set hypotheses. Analytic epidemiology tries to follow up on the hypotheses developed in descriptive studies, and to investigate specific causes or etymology of diseases.

Which characteristics determine my susceptibility to a disease?

Some of these important characteristics include the demographic status of the person. For example, gender and age or race and socioeconomic status. Another important factor would be lifestyle characteristics. And then finally, the immune status of the individual or prior immunity and immunization status.

How important is my sex in determining my susceptibility to disease?

Gender is an important factor in occurrence of disease. For example, there are conditions that are predominant among women and others that are predominant among men. In general, women have higher rates of morbidity than men, but at the same time, tend to live longer than men.

How important is my marital status in determining my susceptibility to disease?

Marital status is an important factor in the occurrence of disease. In general, studies show that single people tend to live less long than married people. Apparently, marriage has either a protective, or selective effect in the occurrence of morbidity and mortality. Protective meaning social support that arises from marriage, and selective meaning that healthier people may tend to select one another; and therefore, married people live longer than single people.

How important is my race in determining my susceptibility to disease?

Diseases show substantial variation according to race. Sometimes, race is a factor that defines health disparities in some racial groups. For example, in the United States, some African American groups and other minority groups may tend to have higher amounts of morbidity and higher rates of mortality than other groups.

Why is race a factor in susceptibility to disease?

The association between race and disease is related sometimes to cultural and socioeconomic factors. For example, some racial groups may have cultural values that protect against disease through lifestyle factors such as avoidance of smoking or dietary factors that are more healthy than those that are maintained by other groups.

Does my socioeconomic status determine my susceptibility to disease?

Socioeconomic status is a very important variable in the occurrence of disease. There is a clear inverse association between being lower on the socioeconomic status scale and the occurrence of many infectious and chronic diseases and mortality.

Does my religion determine my susceptibility to disease?

Diseases vary in populations according to religion. Some religions may prescribe lifestyles that are positive with respect to health status. Religions that espouse a vegetarian diet, avoidance of meats and saturated fats, avoidance of smoking, tobacco use and alcohol may have higher rates of life expectancy and lower rates of morbidity. In addition, religion is known to play a role among people who are so disposed in terms of coping with disease once one is afflicted with a chronic disease.

What are some good examples of descriptive epidemiology at work?

Epidemiologists have had many success stories, but I would like to just mention three that come to mind. For example, there is a known association between smoking and lung cancer, and the public policies that have come about as a result of this finding. Another one has to do with the identification of genetic factors that are related to breast cancer, and then finally the work surrounding the human papilloma virus and the development of a new vaccine to prevent human papilloma virus.